I sometimes wonder the value of telling tragic stories, and I do believe there are a number of good reasons. Sting’s “I Hung My Head” is a sobering one but it helps me connect that sense of “what have I done” — an acute sense of regret — and feel grateful later for what I have in my life. I suppose it may be similar to having a bad dream and being happy to wake up. You may wonder why you’d choose to go through a bad dream to begin with, but sometimes one needs a stronger stimulation than pure imagination to get our numb mind to look at the positive side of things.
This story is a particularly chilling one, because I have definitely considered the possibility of having this sort of momentary lapse of reason (sorry, Pink Floyd) and its potentially devastating consequences. But what’s so far protected me from having gone through with an impulsive act like the one in the song, is that I think through the likely results in my mind. Role-playing is a powerful simulation of real life and even if you can’t enact it in person, you can use your imagination to go through an imaginary story line, and what that looks like.
Thinking through before acting is generally a good thing, although one can be too cautious when a quick, decisive action is needed. I do, of course, lots of things without thinking through and get in trouble for some of them. And while it’s impossible to think through everything, I at least try to think through it, especially actions that may have big impacts on myself or people around me. That feels rather laborious at times, but then I have songs like “I Hung My Head” to remind me of the possible impacts of my actions — for good or bad. We are more powerful than we sometimes realize, and with power comes the responsibility.