Here’s a surprising discovery – David Lynch and Donald Trump are more alike than people think. To begin with, Lynch is only 6 months older than Trump. Trump went to a military academy as a teenager to learn discipline and structure while Lynch became an Eagle Scout at age 14 and got to meet JFK. In the mid-60’s Lynch was studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts while Trump was studying at The Wharton School of Business in the same state. Neither one of these guys were into the countercultural revolution of the 60’s. This comes as no surprise when it comes to Trump, but according to Lynch’s closest friends, they never saw him wear a pair of jeans, let alone get stoned or protest anything. During this same period, Trump flirted with going to film school while Lynch had a scholarship at PAFA to paint pictures and really wasn’t interested in making movies.
Both of these men have experienced incredible highs. Trump has been credited with beautifully restoring the Manhattan cityscape and Lynch has, among many other honors, been nominated three times for Best Director at the Academy Awards. Both men have also had their share of hard times. By the mid-90’s Trump was 9.6 billion dollars in debt and he had to hustle to save his business empire. Lynch was booed off the stage at the Cannes Film Festival when he premiered, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Both of these men have admitted taking on projects that they knew at the time they shouldn’t have. Can you imagine what kind of buildings would be made if Lynch drew up the blueprints and Trump had them erected?
So what’s the point to this?
If you only look at what’s on the surface, you’ll see what you think are two very different men with unique hair-dos. It’s easy to write off Trump as some kind of corporate Godzilla who only wants to erect monuments dedicated to himself. It’s equally easy to write off Lynch as some sort of solipsistic bohemian dingbat who cranks out vanity projects with absolutely no consideration for the wants and needs of the audience. The truth is always more complicated and far kinder than the simplistic two-dimensional impressions we carry around. Trump may be a businessman, but there’s more than a touch of the artist in what he does. Whether he’s restoring a hotel, putting up a skyscraper, resurrecting a skating rink in Central Park or building golf courses, he personally wants these things to be beautiful. Beauty attracts and beautiful art stands the test of time.
With Lynch there’s more than a touch of the businessman to what he does. Lynch has made television commercials for Gucci, Calvin Klein, Armani, Adidas, Sony and Nissan. With clients like that, he won’t have to worry about applying for welfare anytime soon no matter what people think of his movies. Both of these guys have learned the hard way that it’s important to only get involved in projects that you’re absolutely in love with. When you’re in love with a project, and subsequently love what you do, it’s easy to throw yourself into it and create something that pleases the soul. Trump has built things that have lost money, but he doesn’t regret building them. Lynch has made movies that have lost money and disgruntled critics, but he doesn’t regret making them.
There are plenty of people that only look at the bottom line. They make stuff that they think is commercial, but the result is merely boring. Would you rather be booed at the most prestigious film festival on the planet – a festival that in the past proclaimed you a god – or would you rather make a “safe” picture that people will watch and immediately forget about? Would you rather build a skyscraper that may not achieve majority occupancy because of an economic meltdown, but will attract millions of people in the street who will stop and stare in awe – or would you rather build less-ambitious budget-conscious structures that disappear into the landscape? And think about this – both the commercial film and the commercial building are not guaranteed to make a profit – those endeavors could both end up in the red.
Trump has admitted that because of his love for what he does, he was too busy to focus on his first two marriages. He now celebrates being a father again with wife #3 at the age of 63. Lynch married his fourth wife in February of this year. He too has admitted that being busy with his projects has impacted his relationships. If past performance is indicative of future behavior, both of these guys are going to be forking out child support and alimony payments in 2046 when they both turn 100. Women often comment, “He’s in love with his career.” Is that such a bad thing?
There are a lot of men who are like or much worse than David Lynch and Donald Trump in the relationship sphere. And even though Lynch and Trump may have failed in some areas of their personal lives, their passion for what they do should still be emulated. Besides being geniuses in their fields, they do have a reputation for being nice guys and good fathers. They love what they do and have written their names in the history of modern culture.
So what do David Lynch and Donald Trump have to do with us?
Ask yourself what it is that you love to do? It doesn’t really matter what it is. Have you abandoned this activity at some point in your life because your family and your community told you it was time to grow up and get serious? How happy are you now? Do you love your job? Odds are 70% that you don’t. Are you married to the person that completes you? Odds are 50% you’re going to get divorced. Even if you hate your job and you end up getting divorced there are probably children in your life as you read this. Ok, fair enough, you have responsibilities and you are to be commended for fulfilling them, but someday those kids are going to grow up and move out, or at least they’ll reach an age when they can feed themselves and do their own laundry (if you kick them in the butt hard enough).
What comes next for you? What’s the next important point on your checklist in terms of your overall life plan? Is there a blank on your checklist? If so, this might be the point when you’re going to have to blow off the dust from that screenplay or novel you buried in the attic. This might be the point when you’re going to have to get an easel, some canvasses, some brushes and some paint, and make those neglected images that have been stirring your soul for decades. It may be a good time to go back to school and shoot for that profession that has always fascinated you. It may be time for you to draw up that business plan and start hustling for the capital to open that store you’ve always wanted. Whatever it is that you love, now is the time to start thinking about getting back into it.
Both Lynch and Trump can quit what they’re doing right now and never worry about money ever again, but they both know that that’s the psychological equivalent of committing suicide. Both men will tell you that even if they had failed to get off the ground in the 70’s, they both would have kept pursuing what they love to do irrespective of whatever money they made along the way. For them “it’s the doing not the getting” that pushes and defines their lives. It’s time for you to start doing a little doing of your own.
Or a lot!
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