Film, Words

Fish and Sharks (AKA Ideas and Moving Forward)

Ideas are like fish.

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

Down deep the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.
— David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish

I recently read David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity. The book is short and sweet and focuses on ideas, transcendental meditation and filmmaking. It's also full of solid gold that can be applied to pretty much any creative endeavour and to life. 

For me, the best bits are when he talks about finding ideas and following them wherever they may take you. I always thought I had to have an idea before I could start - the big idea that would drive me forward and from which everything else would flow, but that's just not the way things work. It's all about the little ideas. Little glimpses. Tiny pieces that will eventually fall into place. Words, images and sounds that just seem to come around, tapping you on the shoulder asking to be remembered, to be kept in a drawer for later. Following that one little idea will lead you on to other ideas. Ideas about what to write, to read, to research, to aim for, to believe in and what to do next. But we have to have desire. Desire to create, to understand, to change and grow, and a desire to move forward. Without it nothing will happen and we'll be here forever, turning in circles, breathing in and out. 

  David Lynch and   Annie Hall 

David Lynch and Annie Hall 

When I was 17 and couldn't sleep, I turned on my old portable TV and watched Annie Hall while blowing cigarette smoke out the cracked window. There's one scene, where Alvy and Annie talk about their relationship, that I can never shake. Alvy says: "A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies."

"Keep moving forward" are words I’ve etched onto my bones. They're words I tell my friends when they are at the bottom. The words I tell myself when I feel like all the light has gone. If we don't have the desire to move forward, to be better, to change, to love, to live, to fuck up and try again then we've got a dead shark on our hands.

We've got to keep moving forward, trying to catch the big fish. 

Desire for an idea is like bait. When you start fishing you have to have patience. You bait your hook, and then you wait. The desire is that bait that pulls those fish in - those ideas.

The beautiful thing is that when you catch one fish that you love, even if it’s a little fish - a fragment of an idea - that fish will draw in other fish, and they’ll hook onto it. Then you’re on your way. Soon there are more and more and more fragments, and the whole thing emerges. But it starts with desire.
— David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish