Missing My Guide
Knowing nothing is a great place to start.
I hope you end up there. -Roshi Norman Fischer
“The goal of expressing kindness and compassion to one’s self & others is enough of a challenge until we leave this plane(t)” – Dr. Noah
The above quote and Dr. Noah’s response was the last email that I received from my long-time teacher in 2013. Dr. Noah Young left this planet too soon. He had suffered a long battle with cancer and faced it with dignity. I guess it shows the character of a person when they battle a life-threatening illness and did so with grace and heart.
The last time I saw Dr. Noah was when I had packed up all my possessions and headed from Los Angeles to San Juan Island, where I was to open up a residential treatment facility. Noah was my last stop before heading up to parts unknown.
When I met Dr. Noah, I was as green as could be. I just entered graduate school and was able to secure an internship at Tarzana Treatment Center, a facility that is similar to Lakeside Milam, in Kirkland Washington. Dr. Noah and I instantly bonded right from the start because we were cut from the same cloth.
You know when you meet somebody and instantly connect? This was what it was like with him and me. We were two days apart on birthdays, though he was 15 years my senior. At the time, Dr. Noah was a professor at Pepperdine in Malibu, was a Minister of the Science of Mind, and our spiritual focus bonded us.
I admit, I made a lot of mistakes in my first year under his tutelage. Each time, Dr. Noah would take in a breath of frustration, exhale, walk over to his huge library of books, hand me a book, shake his head, and ask me to read a certain chapter. Those readings were humbling, especially since I was prone to yell my dissatisfaction when coaching little league baseball at that time, and learned through him to center myself and use my head wisely.
When I was studying for my doctorate, I needed a dissertation advisor because the one that the school provided was lame. I’m sure he was a good teacher, but lacked the time to devote to me and was coming from an old-school point of view. Then I contacted Dr. Noah who was tickled pink I wanted him. For the next six months, we talked regularly, the beast got completed, and in the end, my university told me the dissertation was one of the top three the university had ever seen!
From time to time I think about my mentor. I tend to chuckle because there were times we would say something, look at each other, and start laughing. And of course, that laughter tended to build, and I think the program director thought that we had lost it on numerous occasions. This was Noah’s way. He always had a laugh, a life lesson, and an affinity to say the right thing to inspire this greenhorn.
Noah and I went to this middle eastern lunch buffet a few miles away from the facility all the time, to be entertained by the owner’s 8-year-old son. Ali was his name I think. And oh, did the owner cringe when he saw his son slide into our booth and filled us in on whatever came to his mind. Each visit found us laughing our way back to the treatment facility.
What I learned the most from Dr. Noah was his ability to listen. This man generally loved people and wanted to honor what they were thinking about. If you were to look at Noah, you would think he was one of the clients. He wore tattoos throughout his body, had a shaved head but a ponytail in the back, was slightly obese, and wore robes and sandals on his feet. He was my guru, and I was his softball-playing student that still wore a tan from his pool cleaning years. How we matched, I still don’t know, but I am so grateful we did.
Dr. Noah was originally a professional bass player and his prize performance was in the movie Raging Bull, where you can see him in the background behind Robert Di Nero. He needed to leave the New York music scene due to his substance use, went through treatment in Los Angeles, and stayed. He then turned his attention to scholastics and recovery, having almost 30 years of sobriety when I met him. He played the bass for me a few times and I played my guitar. I remember one day playing him a song that was inspired by a session that I had with a gang member. It was named “Connected at the Heart.” This one time a gang banger and I really bonded and he told me he couldn’t go back to the hood because he learned how to be heart-centered in our therapy and wouldn’t survive the streets now.
Noah, I miss you and want to thank you for your patience, your counsel, your inspiration, and your love. I think you would be proud of this student as I try to emulate the man that you were. I represent hundreds of people that you honored and taught. One thing, we sure went toe to toe about the 12 steps vs spiritual psychology healing. I have to admit that you were filled with grace as you ended up agreeing with me that the 12 steps were not a psychological program but strictly behavioral in focus and psychotherapy was needed to fill in the gaps. I think that was it. You won hands done on every other debate.
I hope you are connected with your wife now. She was an angel and probably is now. I am sure you are watching over your children and I’ll try to track them down. As for now, God bless you and your life’s work.
Until we meet again,
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.