Books Reviews Spirituality

Book Review — David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

Written by Mark McElroy

“If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish,  you’ve got to go deeper.”  — David Lynch

Catching the Big Fish is a short, readable book on the connection between mindfulness and creativity from David Lynch, the writer/director who unleashed Eraserhead, Lost Highway, and The Elephant Man upon the world.

The short chapters align with Lynch’s own journey into meditation as a creative tool, from the early days (when he was angry, fearful, and convinced meditation “sounded like a waste of time”) to a point in life where he claims not to have missed either of his two daily sessions for thirty-three years running.  As he moves from project to project, his appreciation for the centering, clarifying power of daily meditation grows.

The result? “The joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes.”

If you love his work (I do), you’ll enjoy the behind-the-scenes info on projects like Eraserhead (in production, on and off, for five long years) and Dune (where he learned a hard lesson about not demanding the right to control the content of a movie’s final cut).

If you’re a creative professional (I am), you’ll find yourself nodding as Lynch makes observations about the demands of creative work (“You must have clarity to create.”)

And if you’ve been involved in the practice of daily meditation (I used to be), you’ll recognize the benefits he describes. (“The thing about meditation is: you become more and more you.”)

This is not a how-to book or a step-by-step guide; for that, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Instead, this is a collection of compelling and deeply personal notes on how one man’s meditation practice shaped his art and his life. Reading it reminded me of the benefits I saw in my year of daily practice (lower blood pressure, more focus), and has me longing for the discipline of a daily practice again. Recommended.

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