Saturday, February 10, 2007

When Sex Comes Last

“To everything there is a season,” it says in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, and in every life there are periods when a lot goes wrong and the human spirit goes into survival mode. By necessity, those aspects of life that aren’t key to simply getting through the day, may get short shrift. People under stress neglect certain things, and one of those, classically, is sex.

It certainly seems that this winter has been a rough one for many people I know. One of my dear friends was struck by the triple threat of ill health, a car accident, and harassment from extended family. Another close friend had has much terrible turmoil in her family due to disease and loss of life. Meanwhile, I myself have been in a long struggle these past months with the failing health of both my parents.

Even the news around here seems to mirror these troubles: from the bizarre stories of the astronaut love triangle to the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has been plunged into a vicious cold snap, and we are happy if the temps get up into two digits.

To top it all off, it’s almost tax time!

These are the times when a person simply tries to cope, and sex takes a back seat. Not a good thing if you are an erotic romance author…not even so good if you’re not! But that’s the way life goes, and it’s no use beating yourself up over it when you have other fish to fry.

I suspect, however, that even in times like these, the libido is not hibernating, but merely contributing its energy to more urgent causes. I believe that the same spirit that compels us to mate, to procreate, and to pursue sexual pleasure, also inspires us to fight to sustain the life and happiness of ourselves and others. For humans possess more than the drive to stay alive. We also want quality of life, we want to pursue joy and to help others do likewise.

While at times like these we take things “one day at a time,” just trying to get from one crisis to the next in one piece, deep down inside there still dwells that spirit that clings to the hope of far more. It’s not your common conception of “sex drive,” but in my opinion it springs from the same source.

During the past couple of weeks, which have been particularly challenging for me, I have been rereading Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It has been a long time since I read this marvelous novel, a lifelong favorite of mine. I find it the perfect accompaniment to the events happening lately: a truly gothic novel that, while dark, sometimes sinister, sometimes tragic, still has at its center the passionate love of two vibrant characters who are in the determined pursuit of happiness. Jane Eyre is far from an erotic romance, as far as my life seems from that at the moment. But at the same time, the heart of the novel beats with yearning, passion, and sexual love surpassed by few fictional works.

Just so, I know that heart still beats inside of me, and when better days come, will revive itself again. If it happened for Jane and Mr. Rochester, it will most certainly happen for me and for you.

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