THERE is so much in life we take for granted. It is easy for us to go through weeks in only human doing mode - rather than human being. Of course we get lots done, but at what cost to our bodies? 

In this mode we also miss so much beauty in the world. In Jamaica, I have created a habit of getting up at 5:30am to sit and just be. To reflect and just pause before the day starts. 

There are many areas of my life where I feel that I don’t pause to think more, to be fully aware and really appreciate life. Then there are other times in life that remind me that I am alive. 

I pause to notice the birds and the sounds around me. Each day I try to be more aware of these moments. Paulo Coelho, the author of the Alchemist, asks one of the most powerful questions about paying attention to life. 

He asks “do you remember the day you were alive?” and for me, the answer is 'yes'.

It was when I was on the anaesthetic table before surgery, and every time I lay down into a MRI machine. That is when I had this overwhelming feeling of being alive.

Perhaps that old saying that you feel most alive when close to death is true. I guess it’s why - when you speak to extreme sports athletes - they always talk about the rush they get when they are on the limit. This mental state fascinates me.

My morning reflection this week was around the life of Professor John Mallard, who passed away this week at the age of 94. Why, might you ask, is my relationship with Professor Mallard so profound? Especially considering he was someone I never met and didn’t know of until I read about his passing.

Well, because I owe much to Professor Mallard - along with all the other people who have been saved by MRI scans.

Professor Mallard lead a team from Aberdeen University that built the first scanner, which was used to carry out the world’s first body scan of a patient. This pioneering discovery would go onto save millions of lives around the world and has become a familiar part of my life over the last 11 years.

You could say that Professor Mallard was key in helping me discover the answer to my Paulo Coelho question. 

What I realise more as I write this column and read people’s emails is that life pulls us more to the human doing than the human being. It is important that we strive to get a balance here and to become more aware of life around us. 

So my question to you this week is that of Paulo Coelho: do you remember the day you were alive?