We love supporting members of our Positively Positive community and their great causes. Over the next few months, we will be showcasing stories by Dr. Dragos as he embarks on a ninety-day writing marathon to raise $10,000 for water projects in developing countries Learn more here.
I met the Soul Mechanic on a hot morning in Phoenix, Arizona. He was a man in his 60s, a therapist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychotherapy turned minister in a spiritual center. After two decades of working as a psychotherapist and realizing spiritual problems cannot be solved using mental techniques that have removed God from the equation of life, he put his diplomas and scientific awards in a bubble-wrap in the closet and left his scientific career to become a minister. He was an imposing man with giant hands, silver-white hair and eyes the color of the sky on a perfect day in summer. People throughout the country called him the Soul Mechanic because they’d found healing and peace in his words. But before I share what I’ve learned from him, let me tell you a story.
One summer in my late twenties, I waved goodbye to my family and friends, and walked through the security gates in Bucharest International Airport to board a thirty-five-hour flight to the other side of the planet in New Zealand. I had a new job, my girlfriend joined me a month later, and life was, as they say, perfect. Fitting in the new place was a mild surprise to me, because I had tried to move to other countries in the past, and after a few days of struggling to adapt to a new city, I flew back home, sometimes in tears of hurt and intense emotional pain. I am a cancerian, and cancerians need, above anything else, to feel they are safe at home. New Zealand was different than the rest of the world. I did feel like home. I lived in a little white house in the rainforest, half-an-hour drive from the wild coast of the Tasman sea, and half-an-hour train ride from downtown Auckland.
If you traveled, you’ve probably noticed that open-air museums have at the entrance a miniature model of the area, so visitors can see the place at a glance and choose where to go. New Zealand is the open-air museum of Creation. In the beginning, God took the jagged cliffs of Ireland and the bluff fjords of Norway, the white sandy beaches of Australia and the rough waves of California, the baby-blue glaciers of Alaska, the moss-green hills of England, the gentle rivers of China and the holy lakes of Finland, the boreal pine forests of Canada and the ancient rain-forests of Hawaii, the Greek islands and the legends of the Pacific, and placed them together in New Zealand to create this miniature model of the Garden of Eden. The country smells of wild flowers and fresh-cut grass after a warm summer evening rain, and millions of sheep roam the lands like dandelions blown across the sun-burnt green fields. And God saw that it was good. Every night I walked outside my house, and looked up to the sky. The city lights reflected yellow in the clouds that raced between me and the never-ending unknown of the universe. New Zealand had become home.
Less than a year later, however, my dream life begun to disintegrate. The job I had turned into a prison I was afraid to leave, and after five years together, my girlfriend and I grew apart. We loved each other, but our relationship faded into vague and dishonest conversations intended to protect the other from the truth and from the reality that deep down our souls had drifted in opposite directions. For her sadness turned into anger, and for me into depression. She snapped for things she once found cute, and I withdrew more and more into solitude. Whenever I traveled alone, I cheated on her with other girls – probably hurt and emotionally crippled just as I was – and then returned home to horrendous days of anger and harrowing nights of torment. Guilt devoured my heart like a hungry beast escaped from its chains. One day, when I couldn’t bare the pain anymore, I left my job, packed and left New Zealand. We returned to Romania, and another year later we broke up.
I bid farewell once again to my family, and roamed the world for years ever since. Each morning I woke up in a different bed, but under the same familiar blanket of pain.
The walls of depression caved in on me, and suffocated my will to live. I prayed to God to open my heart again, to allow me to cry and set me free from the latent agony, but I did not hear Him. My tears were dry. Hurt and always on the run, I slept in cheap motel rooms or hid in the arms of strangers for a night or two.
Three years after our breakup, I was driving across the United States in my rental car. I had another girl on my side, but I was alone, tormented, and with my emotional roots pulled from the ground. We left Romania together with money only for food or gas. I had many days of rage and moments when I smashed the dashboard with my boots. I had days of pain, when depression nailed me in the seat of the car. She recommended me to see a therapist, but I couldn’t afford or trust one. I missed New Zealand, I missed my parents, I missed my former girl, but more than anything I missed the days when being present in my own life was not unbearable. I never considered taking medicine. In spite of the smothering pain, I still knew my depression was the consequence of having lived against my heart’s will for years, I had stayed for too long in a relationship I did not want to be in any more, and I was now witnessing the unfolding of a law of Spirit most of us were never taught:
The truth of our heart cannot be ignored, dismissed or rationalized away. Dr. Dragos (Click to Tweet!)
For years, my mind and my heart clashed and pulled and willed in opposite directions. My heart yearned for freedom, but my mind, with all its beliefs about how relationships should be – eternal and everlasting – dragged in the opposite direction. This created a giant chasm inside me, and threw me into desperation and depression.
I’d struggled to hide the truth and be the prince who saves the princess, but I had become the monster, locked and raging in his dungeon. Knowing the cause didn’t make the pain lighter. In fact, it made the drama worse because I was looking at my depression through the eyes of the impotence to do anything about it. I observed myself sinking into a black pit, powerless to turn around, and drag myself out. I was descending, as if by my own choice, deeper and deeper into pain. I traveled the world to run away from my past, but somehow the past always booked the same seat on the same flight and ended up in the same bed with me night after night for three years. Every Christmas Season – when everyone either goes home or misses home – brought me the most feeble sense of hope that maybe this year I will go back to New Zealand. I then looked in my wallet and at the situation in my life, and realized it will not happen. I tried to find any job, I prayed and begged God to take me back, but I found all doors locked. I could not go home.
“I just realized something” I told my girlfriend as we were driving through the Arizona desert three years later. We were on tour, teaching people how to make their dreams a reality even if they start with nothing, and were approaching Phoenix. “Don’t you find it interesting, I teach others how to live their dreams, but when it comes to my own dream to go back to New Zealand, nothing works?” I fell silent for a while and stared into the distance along the four lanes of asphalt that met on the horizon in front of us. “That’s it” I said to her all of a sudden. “That’s it. No matter what happens, no matter how much it costs, no matter what I will have to give up on, I am going back. No more apologies. No more excuses. I am going back to New Zealand this year.” She smiled at me, gentle as she always was, caressed my hair, and said nothing.
We parked the car on that hot Friday evening in Phoenix in front of the spiritual center where we were having our conference. People gathered inside, and created an atmosphere of peace and long-time friendship, not uncommon for the United States. I walked on stage, shared stories of my expeditions to the North and the South Pole and concluded the evening with a screening of my film The Amazing You. I had seen it hundreds of times during the year, and so I stepped outside alone and sat down in the gutter. From across the parking lot, a mighty oak tree stared at me through the stillness of the Arizona night. I only scribbled a few lines in the dust with a stick, when a giant man with silver-white hair and dressed in a multi-flower Hawaiian shirt, came running from behind the tree, waving at me a piece of paper. I reckoned he thought I was the ticket seller, and I just waved him in without saying a word. After the conference I walked back to the hotel, and fell into a sleepless dream.
When I woke up, Phoenix was burning hot, and waves of heat were already floating above the asphalt. I grabbed a cup of coffee and drove to the spiritual center for the second day of the conference. I was preparing my notes when the same man in the same Hawaiian shirt (I later found out he was the same man, because I didn’t recognize him from the previous evening) walked into the room.
“Who is the speaker today?” he said in a loud, splendid voice.
“I am” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this” he said while staring around the room, at the walls, the ceiling and the floor. “It will probably be strange to you, but I have to do this.” Do what? I thought and took a step back. This time he looked straight into my eyes. “This morning I was doing my meditation, when something happened. I don’t understand it, but maybe it means something to you. I was praying and I’ve heard the voice of the Holy Spirit telling me to open my eyes, go to the safety vault, take something, and then drive to the spiritual center, and give it to the speaker. To be honest, I don’t know who you are, and I have a busy day ahead – I didn’t even want to come, but the Holy Spirit told me to do so and I always listen when He speaks. I drove all the way to give you this. I don’t understand it, but maybe it means something to you.”
And he handed me ten New Zealand dollars.
“Maybe it’s something God wants you to know, maybe it’s money to pay the taxi or something. I don’t know. I’ve never been to New Zealand. A friend of mine forgot these bills in my house a few years ago when he visited us.”
People filled the conference room, someone called my name on the stage. I didn’t know what to say, and so I thanked him and put the bills in my pocket. “People call me the Soul Mechanic” he said before he left and gave me his card. “I have an organic fruit farm in Hawaii. When the time is right, you will come and see me on the island.”
The Holy Spirit told me to give you this gift. These words echoed in my heart for a long time after our meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. I continued my journey around the world, but whenever I lost hope or the pain of the past clawed my mind, I clung to these words for dear life: the Holy Spirit told me to give you this gift. Several months later I boarded a thirty-five-hour flight from Bucharest Romania bound for Auckland, New Zealand. I was going home. Another year later I went to Hawaii to find healing. This series shares with you the conversations and the wisdom of the Soul Mechanic.
DR. DRAGOS – Internationally renowned scientist and filmmaker, director of the award winning documentary film, THE AMAZING YOU, featuring NASA legends, Rock stars, New York Times bestselling authors and the Angry Birds. Dragos spoke at conferences on five continents and his work has been translated in sixteen languages. Check out his new book: Sleepers. You can follow him on FB.
Image courtesy of Aziz Acharki.