Gratitude for the Life of Dr. Michael Smith

Mike Smith, founder of NADA, passed away on December 24, 2017. I met him when I was an acupuncture student in 1992 and he came to do a lecture at my school, which for me was like rain on a desert. And that’s what he continued to be throughout my acupuncture career.

I remember sitting in a hotel bar with him and Nora Madden, after a NADA conference in Detroit, talking about training acupuncturists. “You can teach somebody to do acupuncture in about 10 minutes. Put the sharp end in the patient. That’s about it,” he said.

I loved his honesty, his humor, and above all his love of people who needed acupuncture. As an acupuncturist, I had very few professional role models for those qualities. He was one of the only people I could count on to give me the unvarnished truth about our profession, which he did in a series of conversations after he read Acupuncture Is Like Noodles. He called me up to tell me how much he liked the book, to argue a little about acupuncture theory, and to encourage me to keep organizing. His support was tremendously meaningful.

In 2009 he came to Portland to give a lecture to what was then the Community Acupuncture Network. I’m re-posting the link to those videos — you can find them here— in honor and gratitude for his life. Without him and without NADA, I have no idea what I’d be doing; I doubt I’d be an acupuncturist.  I’d probably be one of those people who went to acupuncture school and then gave up and quit the field after a year or so. I wouldn’t have hung in there long enough to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.

That’s another quality he demonstrated: he hung in there. He persevered — for decades. He was one thousand percent committed to the project of making acupuncture available to marginalized communities on their own terms. He’s still my role model.

Thank you, Mike.

Note: Mike’s memorial service will be held on Saturday March 24 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in NYC, from 1-3pm.

Author: lisafer

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  1. I have a special feeling for Dr Smith and his tireless work for NADA; it was NADA that first interested me in acupuncture. He was a pioneer who never stopped working toward the goal: acupuncture for all who need it!

  2. I also wouldn’t be a punk if not for NADA. I’m grateful for the talk he gave in Portland for CAN, for the pioneering work he and the rest of the folks at Lincoln did, and for everything I’ve ever read from him. He had a tremendous insight into the work we do, and much wisdom,usually on the theme of making it less pretentious. And yet his humility uncovered something magical and full of love. May he rest in power.

  3. Thanks for including that link, Roppie; I just read the Matt Bauer piece and agree with you.

  4. Lisa,
    I am sorry for your loss, and thankful for what you’ve gained from what sounds like a remarkable man. His message is needed now more than ever!

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