I was living in an earth-based spiritual community on a volcanic island in Nicaragua when I first met Talia, an Israeli nomad who started traveling seven years ago after completing national service. Instantly, I could tell we were going to be good friends. The tattoo of Peter Pan on her ankle and her wild, lion’s mane of a hairdo could be considered indicators of an intriguing personality, sure. But ultimately, it was her contagious energy and optimism that drew me and others alike towards her. The type of warmth she radiated can be compared to that of the sun; capable of turning a seemingly murky day into a triumphant one of rainbows and blooming daffodils.
Sadly, she arrived at the communal towards the end of my stay so we didn’t have much time together, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll see her again and that we’ll be friends forever. I know my statement may sound like a stretch considering I barely know her, but in my school of life, chemistry is more important than history. In other words, in matters of friendship, it’s not about longevity–it’s about connection and character.
On our last day at the communal, we made our way back to the mainland by ferry and decided to kill time by exploring each other’s minds. We were to part ways upon arrival as I was headed for the capital city of Managua to catch a domestic flight to the Corn Islands, and she was on her way to Panama for a tribal gathering in what would turn out to be a pivotal moment in her journey to becoming a shamanic healer. The conversation that transpired between us was nothing short of soul-quenching. We discussed how one of the greatest gifts solo travel afforded us was the freedom to express ourselves, to become who we’ve been all along. For people like us, solo travel was our way of coming home to ourselves.
I think there’s this misconception that we become new people when we embark on such transformational experiences which couldn’t be further from the truth (for us at least). In excavating ourselves, we discovered that there was nothing new about us, just like how there was nothing new about the “New World.” Our highest, truest selves were there all along, buried beneath the density of societal constraints and norms.
Anyway, I don’t know how else to introduce the fairy godmother that is Talia Jacoby except to say that anyone who crosses paths with her is a lucky soul. I managed to extract pieces of our 45-minute conversation that embodied who she is and what we talked about in the hopes that it will speak to someone the way it spoke to me:
When I started traveling seven years ago, I was a little girl. I came out of the army and I didn’t know what was out there yet alone what was inside of me. I was always very curious and always looking to develop my mind and my heart. I was looking to find truth and travel became my way of living the change that I wanted to see in my life. I went to places where no one knew me and started from zero. I was naked without being ashamed of myself. I exposed my soul without the fear of being judged. I had traveled with friends before but I felt myself truly develop when I was traveling by myself. It’s as if I could really invent a new me and I think it’s easier to do this when no one knows you. If anything, that’s what makes the love and appreciation you earn from people who know nothing about your story or your medals that much more rewarding. People loved me for how I existed in front of them. No judgment, no nothing—just unconditional love.
[…] It’s a shame because when we are children, we don’t really have a problem with ourselves. We’re not concerned with how we look or anything, we’re just present. We’re just living. Then people start pointing and comparing us to others and their ideals and eventually we learn to hide our light so we can fit in. When you hide your light and repress this part of you that wants to shine, the journey is to get it back. That’s why if I had to put a title on my journey, it’d be ‘Opening My Heart’ because I didn’t add new things from outside. Everything already existed inside of me, I just let them out! I opened my heart and when I did so, the people in front of me opened theirs as well. To me, this is happiness. This is the highest level you can be and when you realize this, you just want to live like this every single day of your life.” –Talia Jacoby