Catching The Big Fish
I’ll be honest - I had no idea who David Lynch was when I picked up this book. And frankly, I think the title is trite. Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity sounds like a genre identity crisis. But a man I fell in love with bought me a copy and said “you have to read this, this book changed my life.” And because I loved him and believed unquestioningly in his taste and judgement, I obliged.
If you didn’t know, David Lynch is a filmmaker. Most notably of Twin Peaks fame. And in case you're like me - not a filmmaker - trust me when I say that that this book about film will not leave you behind.
It took me all of two pages to sense what kind of beautiful, soul-validating, cog-shift was about to go down.
A little background… lately I’ve been stuck on a new (or new to me) concept, you may have heard of it. It’s called the creative ”flow zone” or “flow state”. Last month I was at my buddy Adam Garcia’s Design Week event and he brought Rich Tu up on stage to discuss exactly this - creative flow state. It’s defined as the meditative state you go into when you’re creating your work.
Woah. Meditative state?
My mind blew right open. YES, I thought! I KNOW THAT FEELING! It has a name?? It was like finally being diagnosed. Now I was armed with a phrase I could type into google and learn everything about because I. Have. Questions! Like, can flow zone be applied to a broad spectrum of industries even the traditionally “non-creative” ones? (I believe hell yes it can). How does one get into a flow state? Are there steps I can take to expedite the process? *Is wine allowed? **How much time should I set aside? What is my optimal environment? Is it loud or quiet? Am I alone or in a crowd? Can I simultaneously listen to podcasts?
Learning about flow state did not directly lead me to picking up David Lynch’s book, but it’s no coincidence I read it when I did. Because as David suggests, “One thing leads to another, and if you let it, a whole other thing opens up.” And after having sat on my shelf for over eight months, it was only after creative “flow zone” had been planted in my brain that I selected it from my ‘Unread’ shelf. It was a sunny Friday evening but I wasn’t leaving my couch or this book for anything.
David writes with a sort of romance in his voice. He finds a thrill in creating - when the mind knows it’s landed on something big, when all the dots are connecting. And it’s that excitement and mystery that propels him forward. For David, meditation is not optional. It is the entire method, the entire means to his creative ends. "You don’t use meditation to catch ideas. You’re expanding the container, and you come out refreshed, filled with energy, and raring to go out and catch ideas afterward.”
Ultimately, this book reinforced my sense of conviction and why it’s important to trust my instinct. I’ve gone ahead and built my next rainy day watchlist around films David recommends (Kubrik’s Lolita) or directed himself (Eraserhead, and because it’s trending, Twin Peaks).
So don’t let the cheesy title fool you, there are in fact very few actual fishing references here!
* I used to write with wine all the time. You’ve heard the phrase “write drunk, edit sober?” First of all Hemingway never said that. And secondly it’s awful advice. When I was in my early 20’s, drinking wine is how I got into my flow zone. “Drugs injure the nervous system, so they just make it harder to get those experiences on your own.” I couldn’t agree more, David. It was a poorly-informed shortcut that I now believe is akin to cheating myself out of creativity.
** “If you want to get one hour of good painting in, you have to have four hours of uninterrupted time.”
- Bushnell Keeler, father of David’s childhood friend, Toby Keeler.