Is Your Watch Set to Universal Time?

Another wonderful article by my friend, Neil Neimark, M.D.

There are some books we keep by the bedside for “instant inspiration” in a world filled with too much uncertainty and confusion.

One such book is entitled Small Miracles: Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal (Copyright1997, Adams Media Corporation, Holbrook, MA ISBN: 1-55850-646-2).

In the preface to this wonderful book, Bernie Siegel, M.D., the famous Yale author and surgeon tells an extraordinary story about one of his patients.

This patient of Dr. Siegel’s had an appointment with another doctor on what was a very busy day. The doctor was running late and the waiting room was filled with upset patients. As the wait grew longer and longer, many patients became impatient, leaving the office in order to keep other appointments and obligations. Dr. Siegel’s patient was tempted to leave as well, but “something” compelled him to stay and wait it out. As the minutes passed, more and more patients decided to leave. Repeatedly staring at his watch, Dr. Siegel’s patient began to doubt the wisdom of his decision to wait. Finally, after waiting a full two hours, the nurse arrived at the door to the waiting room and called his name, “Kirimedjian!”

The patient, delighted, jumped to his feet, only to notice another man simultaneously jump to his feet from the other side of the waiting room! Both men looked at each other, somewhat stunned. Realizing this was too much of a coincidence to share such an unusual name, they approached one another to inquire as to their respective identities. The patient was astonished to discover that the man on the other side of the room was his father, whom he hadn’t seen in 22 years.

As the story goes, when the patient was a young child, his parents had divorced. At that time his father was an abusive, alcoholic parent and had been denied any visitation rights. The patient grew up, never knowing his father. Now after 22 years, an opportunity for reconciliation was possible, all due to the patient’s unexplainable impulse to wait it out!

So often in life, we want things to run on our schedule, in our time frame. But Bernie Siegel teaches us to respect what he calls “universal time”, the idea that the universe has a different — and often more important — schedule for us.

Sometimes, getting where we think we must get to is not the place we need to be. This is perhaps why God arranges flat tires, misplaced car keys, traffic jams and the like.

We need to be open to allowing things to unfold in a way that we can see the good (reuniting with an estranged father) even in the bad (having to wait 2 hours to see the doctor).

My Peruvian wife, Marta, often tells me of a wonderful saying in Spanish: “El hombre propone y Dios dispone.” This translates roughly: “Man plans, God decides.”

We need to set our watches to “universal time.”

In so doing, we can stop the incessant rushing and begin to listen for the greater good in what appears to be a frustrating, inconvenient or disturbing event.

We can open up to the coincidences in our lives and begin to find the greater meaning possible.

Sometimes getting a cold that won’t go away and drains our energy (bad thing) can help us to slow down and take the needed rest we have been denying ourselves (a good thing).

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes a flat tire is just a flat tire. Sometimes a traffic jam is just an annoying traffic jam. But by becoming open to the possibility that it may be more, a new world of coincidence opens up to us, and small miracles can begin to happen.

Till next time, be on universal time. And, be well. In body and soul,


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