From the moment I saw this woman I had an instant connection with her. It’s as if I’d known her my whole life, but we’d just met. The kindness of her spirit glowed and her eyes smiled. She was beautiful, not for any reason I could see but because of what I felt in her presence. Her uniqueness came from her enlightenment through travel. She spoke in other languages, slept under stars and rode each wave with the kind of ease reserved only for those who truly understand life. She shared life with people millions of miles away. Her courage and tender heart are an inspiration to anyone who is lucky enough to cross paths with her, so she is my Soul Friend, Caroline Jackson.
For the past three years I worked for Free People, which ultimately taught me to recognize beauty of all kinds, to respect it, and to allow myself the time to ponder the exquisite. The word “exquisite” comes from the Latin verb exquīrère, to search out, or to seek. It means uncommon delicacies, carefully selected, and the kind of beauty that can “excite intense delight or admiration,” as explained in The Oxford English Dictionary. The earliest encyclopedias, like Pliny the Elder’s thirty-seven-volume Natural History (first century AD), celebrated nature’s marvels, describing fantastic creatures of Africa and Asia, incredible gemstones, and miraculous plants. Similarly, Renaissance authors compiled books of knowledge with an exotic bent, like cabinets of curiosities assembled by the nobility. They’re filled with mysterious artifacts, religious relics, and intriguing clockworks, presented alongside the occasional unicorn tusk. For years, I would collect obscure, exquisite quotes, and twinkling facts, filling my notebooks, fueling my imagination. My encyclopedia is also like its predecessors in that its range is far-flung, extravagant, and maybe a little eccentric. And like those early books, it’s also very personal. Wikipedia represents the accumulated knowledge of the general public, whereas my entries sprang directly from my very own handcrafted leather journal, bulging with pressed flowers, old negatives, personal letters, and curious images I’d come across – anything that lit a spark, or excited intense delight. In my mind I called the collection “Urban Spirit || Global Soul.” Urban spirit representing my fashion-based metropolitan vitality; global soul representing my irresistible impulse to travel. If I was having a bad day, slipping through my journal could sweep me into a dreamy demimonde where things didn’t seem so bad…
When did you first start traveling?
My parents have always found something special about the open road. Since I can remember my family has taken at least three vacations annually, all of them usually being a road-trip. We also moved around quite a bit, so, I guess that’s were my love for discovering new places is rooted from. However, the first one-way ticket I ever purchased was to Europe in 2013. This specific trip marked the beginning of traveling without an expiration date, which changed everything for me.
Did you go on your own?
I did not go on my own, I was with my best friend – my sister. We traveled through Europe, Northern Africa and Southeast Asia together. In Thailand we split up and tried traveling solo for the experience, and later met back up.
What have you learned about people as a whole from your travels?
The most valuable thing I have learned would have to be that people make the place and the experience. However, it was also important for me to understand that people show emotions in different ways. I have to remind myself not to be discouraged because someone responds differently than I would in a situation. Just because someone doesn’t express themselves in the same way that I would, doesn’t mean that they don’t care. And in the same breath, just because I mean everything that I say, doesn’t mean that everyone else does too.
Is there anyone that you’ve met along the way that has made a special impact on your life?
If you are asking for specific names, I couldn’t even begin to list them. They are scattered all over the world. Some I still keep in touch with and others weren’t with me long enough to even tell me their names.
When I travel, I am constantly struck by the simple truth that sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people. I would like to think that these people, who have touched my soul, have also shared some of their light with me. And when the time came to say goodbye to these sweet spirits, in one way or another, I was able to turn around what I saw in them and apply it to myself.
With that being said, I have found one thing to be true: at the end of the day, I am all that I have; but I wouldn’t be who I am without their influence.
You are very young, how are you able to finance your trips?
I work hard and I save hard. At one point, I was juggling three jobs. I’ll even find myself rummaging through my belongings, selling items that I no longer need or enjoy to fund my transportation to my next destination.
I have also used help exchange programs in the past. One that I recommend frequently is helpx.net. This concept has allowed me to visit and work in many places in exchange for a place to stay, a roof over my head and food on my plate. It’s a wonderful way to travel on a budget.
What part of the road keeps bringing you back to it?
Stories. It’s all in the telling. Stories are maps and architecture; we maneuver by them, we build our temples and our penitentiaries out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the immenseness of a world that spreads in all directions like a desert sandstorm.
What is @journalofcara?
Journal of Cara is named after the Anam Cara, which means “Soul Friend” and is known to be a teacher, companion or spiritual guide. With the Anam Cara you can share your innermost self to reveal the hidden intimacies of your life, your mind and your heart. This friendship cuts across all convention to create an act of recognition and belonging that joins souls in an ancient and eternal way.
In everyone’s life, there is a great need for an Anam Cara, a soul friend. In this relationship, you are understood as you are, without mask or pretention. When you are understood, you are at home.
Love is the most real and creative form of human presence. An expression of human consciousness, this love includes a depth of awareness and reverence for presence.
Where consciousness is dulled, distant or blind, the presence grows faint and vanishes. Therefore awareness which brings integration and healing, is one of the greatest gifts of this friendship. As a result, you look, and see, and understand differently. You refine your sensibility and transform your way of being in the world. Journal of Cara is my photo stream that aims to awaken your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.
Do you ever miss home? If so, how have you handled those emotions?
Of course I miss home, but I find myself homesick for people more so than a specific place. I once read, “You will never be completely at home again, because your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” (-Mariam Adeney) and I couldn’t agree more.
Is there any certain place you have traveled that keeps bringing you back to it? If yes, why?
There’s something magical about it. I’ve traveled from its Mediterranean reef down to its Saharan dunes and I’ve pulled inspiration from everywhere in between. It’s a storytellers paradise; for the culture belongs to the imagination there. Some places take your breath away, and this holds true for me there. I am constantly experiencing something new and different, therefore it’s a place where I know I grow a little bit more everyday.
What advice do you have for people that are looking to travel overseas?
Just let go of everything and travel with an open mind, heart and soul. Say yes more than no. Be thankful and humble for the opportunities and jump on an unforgettable ride. We learn to do things that matter by doing a lot of things that don’t matter, and so in the long run, they matter. Respect the experiences. After all, we are the sum of what we make of them.
How have your travels set you free?
It’s an endless journey of me manifesting myself. All possibilities are possible; there are no limitations. People often think of education as something they can finish, but it’s not..
Traveling sets everything free.
This post comes from our friend and artist, Melodi Meadows.