Summa Psychonautica: Don’t Waste Your Life

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readMar 6, 2018

Please don’t waste your life.

Shit. Sorry. Bad start. Let me clarify.

I don’t mean “don’t waste your life” in the way that authors of self help books mean it. I’m not saying anything about reaching your full potential and getting really good at something, nor am I talking about racking up a bunch of achievements and awards and creating a really awesome, affluent lifestyle to enjoy. I am not interested in any of that here.

I also don’t mean it in the sense that poets and musicians generally mean it. I don’t mean go on a bunch of brave, wild adventures so that you don’t get to your deathbed and feel sad that you didn’t do enough cool things. I’m not talking about jumping on trains and having crazy relationships and running with the bulls and getting drunk with strangers by the light of the moon. Those things are fine, but that’s not what I’m saying here.

I’m saying don’t waste your life. Don’t miss any of it. Don’t spend your time here on this mysterious blue planet engaged in boring, repetitive thought loops while this unceasing explosion of miracles erupts in your field of consciousness in every waking moment. I have no use for the concept of sin, but if anything was a sin that would surely be it.

I don’t care what actual things you do with your life, to be perfectly frank. Spend your life playing crappy old nineties computer games or arguing with strangers in the Youtube comments section for all I care — just don’t miss any of it. Live it. Be there for it.

Because here’s the thing: no matter what you do or accomplish between your birth and your death on this spinning blue orb, none of it will be the tiniest fraction as miraculous and impressive as the fact that it is happening at all. The difference between a woman who spent her whole life in a small town working in her father’s business and then dying unknown and unrecognized and a woman who became a megastar and had thousands of mourners at her funeral is a paltry puff of smoke compared to the stunning raw fact that there are sentient hominids who are able to sense and perceive the world of experiences. If the woman who died in the small town spent her time here truly appreciating and enjoying that fact, she will be the one who truly lived.

It would be so easy for there to be nothing at all, anywhere. No people, no planet, no universe, no nothing. So very easy and so very much simpler for there never to have been any of it. It would be normal. Baseline. But instead, for some reason, there is something. A whole, whole lot of something. And we get to experience it. We get to be conscious of it, look at it, listen to it, smell it, taste it, feel it, think about it.

How cool is that?

Do you see what I’m getting at here? The difference between there being nothing and there being this amazing world for us to experience and play in is so vastly, vastly more significant than the difference between two lives of two people, even if those two lives are as different as you can possibly imagine. The fact that there are primates with highly evolved cerebral cortexes walking around on their hind legs processing the electromagnetic radiation from their home star using incredibly sophisticated ocular organs and being conscious of that experience is many, many orders of magnitude more fascinating than any “life stories” those primates might happen to cook up for themselves while they’re here.

So our first and foremost duty while we are here, in my estimation, is to appreciate this fact as fully and deeply as we are capable in each instant. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t passively let it drift by uncelebrated. Don’t fail to perceive its majesty and thunderous beauty in any waking moment.

Greet each moment here as you would greet Actual Judeo-Christian God if he showed up and knocked on your door one day, because in a very real and literal sense each moment you are experiencing here is exactly as profound and miraculous as that. Indeed, the fact that all these sense impressions, thoughts and feelings keep erupting into our field of consciousness when there could so very easily be nothing at all instead is, when properly appreciated, infinitely more amazing than any of the miracles human mythology has attributed to Jesus, Krishna or Hercules. The appearance of this universe in your field of consciousness makes turning water into wine an insignificant parlor trick.

Live your life. Really live it. Point yourself wholly at this goal and the deep appreciation of the beauty and majesty of each instant will open up to you more and more and more. I promise.


If you enjoyed this, subscribe to my website’s mailing list and watch for emails that say “Summa Psychonautica” in the title. This is an ongoing project which will turn into a book at some point in the future. In the meantime, consider buying my first book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.