It's been at least a decade since I could write off my failings as youthful indiscretions, and at least a decade before I can start blaming them on second childhood. But though I have still not learned how to act my age, neither can I ignore it. Statistics say I have more days behind me than before me. Whether the curtain has just opened or is about to close, I am in the third act of my life's 3-Act Play (Spoiler Alert: I die at the end).
A recent physical garnered me a clean bill of health. I am in excellent shape for 50. I only notice the bad shoulder when I move a certain way, feel the bum knee when I'm walking up a steep incline, lose my breath on the fourth flight of stairs. My capacity for love has only grown: my libido is another story. I'm not (yet) a doddering old man but neither am I a virile young stallion in peak physical condition. And over the coming years those little problems will likely become bigger ones.
I know now that many of my childhood hopes will go unrealized. I will never become a great musician; never gain fluency in any language save English; never become a physician, lawyer or college professor. Those dreams died before the dreamer and won't be resurrected. While I'll surely learn new things as the years progress my days of Bowie-esque self-reinvention are over. The toolkit I have acquired to date is what I carry through the years ahead.
But amidst my losses I remain keenly aware of all I have. There may be other lovers and the light between us may die but the partnership Kathy and I have created will never be duplicated. For fifteen years and counting we have transmuted each others' failings into strengths. We have stayed together through good times and bad, at our best and at our worst: always we have acted from a place of love. No one else will shape my soul the way she has and no one else will be mother to our child.
November 28, 2011 marked our last great Transmutation, as we shed all my other masks and became parents to Annamaria Sigyn Estelle Filan. Since that time I've struggled mightily with who I was and what I was to become. Caring for Annamaria has goaded me past all my limits. The years since her birth have been in many ways an Ordeal: my writing interests have been put on indefinite hold and I remain unsure where, if anywhere, they will go from here Yet though "Daddy" may sometimes drive me to my knees, it is far and away the best role I have ever played.
Through my life with Kathy and Annamaria I've come to understand something of what Pietas entails. I have a responsibility to protect my child as I am able from this world's dangers and to teach her what I can about its wonders. This is not just a legal fiction but a fierce all-consuming call that resonates not only through my being but through all of Being. I act in the sacred Love fueled by Fear, the love of the wolf for cubs and the herd for calves, the drive to protect and propagate the species. It is a power which reaches from the base of the animal kingdom up to the Gods who celebrate, rescue and mourn Their children.
That love is its own prayer and its own immortality. The past can be rewritten to glorify the villains and demonize the victors: it can be forgotten altogether; it may crumble into dust and fade into heat death and meaninglessness. But it still stands before Eternity no matter how odious our stupidity or how pretty our lies. There is and was and ever shall be this moment when I am lying here beside my daughter, always the soft rhythmic thumping of her feet against my side as she soothes herself, always the warm soft darkness whispering to us and to all that we love and we are loved and we must sleep.