Advice to the Bad Tripping

I got an email the other night from someone I don’t know. He sounded quite distressed, though. Something about being responsible for lots and lots of stuff – creating programs that hurt people’s minds and then causing pain to a whole lot of people, including me and my friends.

Interestingly, a lot of what he talked about sounded like images from my novels – people using hype and spin, magical thinking, computer-generated feedback loops. I ended up dashing off this response:

Dear ______

I think you should just chill for while, drink water, and maybe take some B vitamins. Seriously, just breathe.

I don’t know of any harm you’ve done me or to my friends, so don’t worry another moment about it. And I’m not familiar with any of the mythic role playing or brain programs or stuff you’re talking about. I made stuff up that sounds a bit like that in some stories, but none of that was real for me.

I think you may be assuming a bit too much responsibility for stuff you really don’t have any control over. I think you should try redefining the extent of your influence as ending with the limits of your physical form. Thoughts and projections don’t count, for the time being.

You might have lost some friends – I can’t tell – but try staying still for a while and not doing anything too dramatic. This will probably pass.

All best to you, and good luck,


What it reminded me of was the kinds of conversations I’d have back in college with friends who were having a “bad trip.” Then again, it reminded me of many of the conversations I’ve been having with upset Jews, people in companies, students. Most of the people who call or write for help or guidance or even just to have me speak to their group are, in a sense, suffering from one sort of bad trip or another, and looking for someone to talk them down.

That’s why I don’t generally take offense when people get mad. They’re usually just presenting me with reasons why being happy is not an option, and then I try to help them see why they’re allowed to be happy even if _____ is going on, in their perception.

Even if things do suck – even if we are driving off the edge of a cliff – we don’t need to have a bad trip about it, too.