It does sound like common sense, and yet, when you’ve got a certain temperament, you need to re-remind yourself of this “common sense” once in a while.
I’ve tried meditating a few times before, and when I did, I always felt much better afterward. Alas, I lacked the discipline to make it a habit. Recently I got a tender, loving kick in the ass that told me maybe I should try harder to find that discipline. So I’m really trying meditation now. Still too early to tell how much this might change my life, but I like what I feel so far.
Today I re-read David Lynch’s Catching The Big Fish, which I originally read during one of my fizzled attempts at meditation. The book was even more inspiring the second time, and it reminded me that I should always try to be more Lynchian. I want to give it 4 stars, but first I need to see if this meditation actually pays off as much as Mr. Lynch says it should…
It’s good for the artist to understand conflict and stress. Those things can give you ideas. But I guarantee you, if you have enough stress, you won’t be able to create. And if you have enough conflict, it will just get in the way of your creativity. You can understand conflict, but you don’t have to live in it.
In stories, in the worlds that we can go into, there’s suffering, confusion, darkness, tension, and anger. There are murders; there’s all kinds of stuff. But the filmmaker doesn’t have to be suffering to show suffering… Let your characters do the suffering.
It’s common sense: The more the artist is suffering, the less creative he is going to be. It’s less likely that he is going to enjoy his work and less likely that he will be able to do really good work.
Right here people might bring up Vincent van Gogh as an example of a painter who did great work in spite of– or because of– his suffering. I like to think that van Gogh would have been even more prolific and even greater if he wasn’t so restricted by by the things tormenting him. I don’t think it was pain that made him so great– I think his painting brought him whatever happiness he had.
Some artists believe that anger, depression, or these negative things give them an edge. They think they need to hold on to that anger and fear so they can put it in their work. And they don’t like the idea of getting happy– it makes them want to puke. They think it would make them lose their edge of their power.
But you will not lose your edge if you meditate. You will not lose your creativity. And you will not lose your power. In fact, the more you meditate and transcend, the more those things will grow, and you’ll know it. You will gain far more understanding of all aspects of life when you dive within. In that way, understanding grows, appreciation grows, the bigger picture forms, and the human condition becomes more and more visible.
If you’re an artist, you’ve got to know about anger without being restricted by it. In order to create, you’ve got to have energy; you’ve got to have clarity. You’ve got to be able to catch ideas. You’ve got to be strong enough to fight unbelievable pressure and stress in this world. So it just makes sense to nurture the place where that strength and clarity and energy come from– to dive in and enliven that. It’s a strange thing, but it’s true in my experience. Bliss is like a flak jacket. It’s a protecting thing. If you have enough bliss, it’s invincibility. And when those negative things start lifting, you can catch more ideas and see them with greater understanding. You can get fired up more easily. You’ve got more energy, more clarity. Then you can really go to work and translate those ideas into one medium or another.
David Lynch, Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity