My father died when I was 30, recently married, before our kids were born. I was, it seems now, just starting out.

There are many times that I’ve longed to hear his advice. (Of course, while he lived, he almost never gave advice. It was as if, with me anyway, he thought it wasn’t his right to give advice.)

So, from time to time, I take one of his friends to lunch. I say, "I’m looking for some fatherly advice and I’ve come to you."

The Greatest Generation?
Problem is: They won’t give me advice either.

Recently, I sat for lunch with Bob L., one of my faux fathers.

And I asked him for advice. He smiled and said, "Oh, I can’t give you any advice."

For the Greatest Generation, they sure are tongue-tied. Perhaps that’s what helped make this generation great?

O.K., pal, I mumbled. I can play your little game of cat and mouse. I asked, "What would my father say?"

Bob thought, then said: "Oh, I think he’d say that you are off to a great start."

"A Great Start"
"Ha," I laughed. (I think I actually said "ha.") "’A great start‘? You say I’m ‘off to a great start‘? Dude, I’m 48, and you say I’m ‘off to a great start‘? I’m not at the starting line: I’m dying here!"

(Note to self: don’t call members of the Greatest Generation "dude.")

Bob Was Right
Bob’s known for his being a thoughtful fellow and he was, as usual, right again.

Life is so often evaluated in the rear view mirror. Yet he sees me — at my tender age — standing at a new starting line.

I often think that Mick Jagger, if given the choice, would trade places with any of my young students. Even if it meant that Mick Jagger would have to again earn any fame and success — and give up the certainty that he would ever achieve even 1% of his fame and success. I believe Mick would give it all up — I’m guessing here; Mick and I aren’t speaking — just to stand again at a new starting line.

That’s just one of the ways that Bob L. is like Mick J.

The cliché says that "today is the first day of the rest of your life." It’s hackneyed but true. What part of truth can’t we handle?

If I Knew Then What I Know Now
I think it was Bob who taught me, some years ago, "If I’d known it wasn’t going to kill me, I wouldn’t have been so freaked out all the time." (He may have used words that are more becoming of the Greatest Generation. Dude.)

Anyway, let’s not be so freaked out.

You, too: whatever your aches and pains, whatever your challenges, whatever your age — you, too, are off to a great start.