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 Modern Day Noah:  
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Mind Over Matter by . View all columns in series
It was 9:15 a.m. and I sensed I was in trouble.

It wasn't the San Francisco ballroom with several hundred health professionals that unnerved me, nor was it the fact that I was about to deliver the keynote address for one of the leading medical organizations in the nation that made me uneasy. The preceding 10-minute presidential introduction left my audience numbed (paralyzed, in fact) by the reality of impending severe healthcare cutbacks that would drastically impact every person in that group during the upcoming year. It was as if they were waiting for a flood to wipe them out.

"This is bound to be a disaster!" I thought to myself, knowing within minutes I would be lecturing about (of all things) humor in healthcare. How ironic! After awakening to the stark reality of government-imposed red tape and constriction of services, the group would have been better off sleeping in. I also knew they were in no mood for my message.

Realizing it was too late to catch the next flight and I was already seated onstage, I reluctantly stepped up to the podium and took a deep breath. I began with a story (similar to one published by an anonymous author on the Internet a few years ago) that would hopefully enable this group to assume a lighter frame of reference conducive to gaining something (if anything) valuable from my message. This is what I told them.

A few years ago, a middle-aged farmer by the name of Noah sat on his front porch reading a local news story about reduced federal agriculture subsidies. A bolt of lightning suddenly shattered the silence and his reading glasses. It struck not more than 10 yards from his feet. Thrown to the ground, he looked up and heard the voice of God which sent shivers down his spine.

"Noah, my son, I have some good news and bad news for you," declared God. "The bad news is that I'm dissatisfied with the world's progress, and I've decided to destroy all living creatures with the greatest flood of all time. The good news is I've chosen to save you ... for you are a good man. Set forth to build a massive ark for your family and take along a pair of every living species that exists on earth. When the flood waters rise and cover the earth in two years, you shall be safe. When they eventually recede, you and your passengers will begin anew. I will protect you."

Noah clearly understood and believed God's directive. He immediately assumed the task of designing and building God’s ark in his front yard. Yet soon after clearing the area, building inspectors from the Community Planning Authority showed up on his doorstep and demanded he apply for a building permit.

Despite great difficulty explaining his God-directed plans that didn't meet local standards, Noah complied. Yet it wasn't until 2 months later that the permit was finally approved - a setback that hopefully wouldn't prevent him from meeting his most important deadline ever.

Back on track, Noah set forth to hire a ragtag crew - after all, who would buy into the idea anyway? His classified ad triggered a less-than-positive meeting with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Noah was charged with unfair labor practices as he failed to hire representative workers the Feds considered appropriate. After months of conciliatory talks and failure to attract other employees, he was finally given the go ahead to continue.

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 About The Author
Barry Bittman, MD is a neurologist, author, international speaker, award-winning producer/director and inventor. As CEO and Medical Director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center, a......moreBarry Bittman MD
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