Byron's Babbles

Avoiding The Cul-De-Sac Of Regret

Posted in Heart, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 10, 2021

The heart is the perfect metaphorical keeper of all our feelings and emotions, the heart drives us forward. It is the perfect construct of muscles which never stop. A sentence in the great novel FAULTLAND by Suzy Vitello which had culminated from all that Sherman and Wanda had been through in the aftermath of a Portland, Oregon earthquake – the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history, really jumped out at me. The comment was, “Sherman wants to pull her in. To feel her sadness meet his sadness. Two people grieving and yet somehow marveling at humanity’s breadth, the capacity of a heart.” Our hearts have great depth and breadth for flexing to the greatest spikes of joy to the lowest depths of grief, and then back.

These extreme ranges of joy and pains are what it means to human. And, as is pointed out in FAULTLAND we should marvel at the capacity of our hearts. I’m reminded of the line in the song “Heart” in the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, “You gotta have heart. All you really need is heart. When the odds are saying you’ll never win, that’s when the grin should start.” There are actually some parallels between the book and the musical. Choices are made, paths taken, things done, and regrets of things undone. But then there are the times when we dig deep for humanity and find the true capacity of our hearts.

A great metaphor that Vitello introduced in the book is “a cul-de-sac of regret.” Vitello writes, “…he [Sherman] lets his mind wander, and as usual, it finds a cul-de-sac of regret. His one true sadness-he never parlayed his passion for science into anything substantial.” A cul-de-sac is a dead end in a neighborhood that leads nowhere. A perfect metaphor because regrets really are dead ends. I’ll ask you and myself the same question Christopher asked Morgan in FAULTLAND, “What adventures do you feel you’ve put on hold?”