09/22/2014 10:44 am ET Updated Nov 21, 2014


Remember? That first moment in time when you were aware of things around you and how you felt. Can you remember what were you doing? I have a snapshot of being in a red wagon with a plaid coat on by a hedge. The thought was... bliss!

We are blessed in this country for the most part to be able to live and survive from an early age to now into our eighties. Infant mortality is not eradicated but is much less than most third world countries. Health care is pretty good regardless of what our politicians tell us that Obamacare has done. Our cars are safe due to government oversight. The food we eat and the water we drink are protected by government oversight. When we walk into a room and turn on the light switch, we have the firm belief that light will come on in the room. If we are without, there is a pretty good possibility that someone will help us if conditions allow and we are of a mind to accept help.

When I see a panhandler on the streets of San Francisco, I often think of the fact that at one point in the life of that person, he or she was being held by a mother and cared for. What took place between the times that infant was being nurtured and now? It's possible that some living on the street may suffer from mental illness. This means that the mother loved the child and cared for the child, but somewhere along the line the person was lost in the system and is now out on the street. I wonder how many of these people remember the first moments of life when they were cared for and content. You must note that I did not say "happy" and used "content" as a state of mind for the moment in time to remember.

I met a lady on a ship I was an engineer on who was about 75 years old. One night in Karachi, Pakistan we were having a cocktail party for the Embassy people. She was one of 12 passengers aboard an APL ship. She traveled all over the world on ships after retiring as a school teacher. We shared a few moments and after a while, I asked her if she was "happy." She responded that she was "content" because she felt that happiness was a "fleeting thing." I never forgot that statement and it so applies to how we view our life in general. There is a big push on the part of television hosts and writers and others to help us be happier with our lives. I do not see a lot of people walking the streets with a smile or laughing. I do see a lot of people who are in a rush and do not take time to look around them and see what beauty surrounds us.

The point of all this is centered on "remembering" what we have in comparison to those folks in other places who are challenged to get one square meal a day. We are blessed to live in one of the most advanced countries in the world. We have many things that need to be fixed or corrected perhaps, but on the whole we are very lucky. I am content to realize that I was given a chance to go to sea and see the world. I am content to realize that I am lucky to have a great lady as a wife for 47 years who looks beyond my drawbacks. I am content to remember that red wagon and that plaid coat and the green hedge and the warm feeling in my belly. May you stop and reflect upon that special time when you realized that you have reason to feel content and remember where you started and where you are today.