I don’t like to imagine my loved ones having sex, yet an image will flash by if for some reason I’m thinking about such things—the conception of a grandchild for example. But watching people having sex in a pornographic movie doesn’t bother me. Those films I have seen make no pretence that love is involved. It would be offensive if they did, perhaps even sacrilegious.
In my life, I have worried about many things that turned out be completely foolish. One was that after my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, I wouldn’t be able to have babies. I went to an obstetrician who gave me a chart and thermometer. On the day the chart indicated, Bill and I made love. I don’t think it was perfunctory, bit I can’t really remember. I brought the chart back to the doctor. Bingo, Ernie had been conceived. I know the day, even the hour. My brother’s wife did have trouble getting pregnant and used the same kind of chart. My nephew was conceived on a day my brother had the flu and they had houseguests. No child was ever loved more. I know of no better example of the intersection of the sacred and the profane.
Once when I was in my late forties I missed a period. I was worried; Bill was desperate. Having children had been hard on him. He loved them and enjoyed their company, but as he grew older he worried about them more and more to the point where it seemed like a mental illness. The great tragedy of his parents’ lives and his was the traumatic birth of his younger brother, ever after not only severely retarded but violent. Bill said to me, “I know how you feel, that you couldn’t have an abortion.” I went down cellar and paced and wept and agonized. Finally I came upstairs and told him that if I were pregnant, I would have an abortion. As it turned out, I was only beginning menopause and so never had to go through with my promise. I will never know if I could have gone through with it.
Life is complex—finding your way through it is sometimes difficult and sometimes even seems impossible. “There’s no way out but through,” as Robert Frost wrote. And there is the advice from a Perfect Wisdom text of Buddhism: “go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond.”