I HATE being held up for anything, so I am really struggling with the traffic dislocation in our area right now. The time taken to go from Balloch with one grandchild for a music lesson in Dumbarton is, for me, an endurance test.

A recent survey in America revealed that the average person spends three years in meetings, 13 years watching TV, is hospitalised eight times (men) or 12 (women), spends 24 years sleeping, about five years dreaming, and six months waiting at traffic lights (more of course if you live in Dumbarton). It set me thinking of the time we spend doing non-productive things and so little time being truly alive.

What does it mean to be really alive? Think back to a time when every nerve in your body seemed alive. It could be out on the loch on a speed boat, wind whistling through your hair. Or sinking a hole in one. It could be listening to the Hallelujah chorus sung by a hundred voices, or your team winning the Treble. When you held your child or grandchild for the first time. There are times when you just think.. “this is living!”

The question of when life really beings is intriguing.

A priest when asked, answered: “Life begins at conception.” A Jewish rabbi responded: “At birth.” A Church of Scotland minister said: “When the last child goes off to university and the dog dies.”

But what does it mean to be really alive? I don’t think you can be really alive unless you have some concern for those around you, for no man is an island.

One of the best stories ever told was about the Good Samaritan. I often wonder how his act of kindness was viewed by the recipient.

As he began to stir, did he ask.. “Where am I? The last thing I remember was a man with a kindly face who looked down at me. He must have brought me here, but who paid for my room? Was it him, why did he do it, was he of my class, religion, or nationality? Maybe it doesn’t matter - he saved my life.”

Did he then say to himself: “Let me never forget, that once I laid in a ditch - but somebody cared.” Did he vow he would pass that act of unsolicited kindness on to another? I hope he did.