A hollow whisper resonates across a lush green cornfield, “If you build it, he will come.”
“If you build it, he will come.” One sentence, and you know what movie we’re talking about. After recently watching the classic film again, it’s clear this movie stands up through the years. Field of Dreams will soon be celebrating its 30-year anniversary, and the characters in this film let parents and their kiddos realize the struggles that come with not letting go of missed opportunities.
Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella, a free-spirited farmer in Iowa who struggles with the idea of being “stuck” in life similar to his late father. Despite hearing voices in the night or having shared dreams with his wife, Kinsella takes this strange opportunity to build a baseball field on his farm in place of a large portion of his crops.
Does Kinsella ultimately not want to be like his father by doing something “crazy,” or is he trying to create something monumental in honor of his father? As a child or even a teen, it’s not easy to recognize that simple actions can cause pain, such as not playing catch with your father. As a parent, the pain from that loss (of playing catch) might not be shared to shield the child from disappointment. So, when we watch these wonderfully odd things happen, like echoes on the wind or long-dead baseball players turning up on his field, it doesn’t seem out of place. There’s meaning to it, even if you might not be able to place the reason immediately.
Field of Dreams takes a heartfelt look at regret and how building something, despite it being illogical, has the ability to be significant. Such an undertaking led others in Kinsella’s town to believe he is, in fact, crazy. This is a very teachable moment for parents to share with their kids; just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s wrong or lacking in judgment. Much like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, sometimes, a leap of faith is required. One might not know where that next step will take them, but believing to be on the right path is sometimes all you need.
What better path can you be on, or in this case Ray Kinsella, that leads you to Terence Mann played by James Earl Jones? Not only is Jones a delight to watch and listen to, his portrayal of Mann highlights that change is possible at any stage of our lives. Despite wanting to be on his own, left alone, despite the frustrations of fans turning up on his doorstop, and despite being kidnapped by Kinsella, Mann accepts something that he doesn’t understand. One of the finer points in Field of Dreams is the premise of taking a chance even if you’re unsure of why. Some might call it a gut instinct. Some may say it’s a leap of faith. Others might call it crazy. What’s most important for our kids to learn is that sometimes it’s important to follow through with your heart, even if your mind is telling you that you should be afraid.
Who wouldn’t be afraid of hearing voices in the middle of a cornfield at night? Who wouldn’t be afraid at the premise of going bankrupt in the face of chasing a dream? If Field of Dreams teachers out kids anything, it’s to let them understand that being uncertain, afraid of taking chances, or missing out on a chance to play catch one last time with your parent is okay. Don’t let these moments define you when you’re older. Growing up isn’t easy, but a kid watching its parents go for broke, so to speak, is an important message. Kinsella’s young daughter, Karin, watches her parents create this field, believe in it, and see the magic unfold in front of her eyes. Isn’t that what any parent wants? Yes, failure is possible, but the smile of success – that’s what we want for our kids. We want them to see us take a chance on something we believe in, so they’ll know it’ll be okay for them to one day do the same too.
Kinsella and his family are a part of something special. They’ve constructed a baseball field for forgotten souls to come play once again. In spite of its financial burden, the idea of people showing up from all over the world to watch these players eventually pays off. This entire ordeal wasn’t easy, especially with so many others questioning it, and it took something that’s not very likeable – patience. This field of dreams didn’t hit it big instantly. Like most things in life, it took time and hard work to make it happen. What better message than that is there to share with our kids?
“I wish I had your passion, Ray. Misdirected though it might be, it is still a passion. I used to feel that way about things, but…”
Will you be watching the film again to celebrate its 30th anniversary? What are some of your favorite moments from the film? Share your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to give this page a big Facebook like below.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.