“If you build it, he will come” is the famous line in the classic 1989 flick, “Field of Dreams.”
When Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) starts hearing voices to build a baseball diamond in his fields — sacrificing all the income from his crop — everyone thinks he’s gone mad. He has. Sort of. But then he sees Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) on the field, and the details begin to fall into place.
It’s funny how you pick up different things in a movie depending on where you are in life. The movie came out just as I was graduating from high school and figuring out how to live my life sober. My vision was very black and white then. It has to be in the early days of sobriety, or else you’ll end up drunk. So I remember the “if you build it, he will come” line, but I thought as soon as Ray’s baseball field was completed, and his daughter spots someone playing ball in it, it was sort of done and over. I don’t recall any of Ray’s confusion and angst when he hears the other commands, does his best to obey them, but gets stuck every time.
A few nights ago, when I saw the movie for a second time, I appreciated all the gray matter the comes after the diamond is built–the resolutions that arrive a day or week later, right as Ray and his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan), are tempted to sell the farm because they’ve missed the mortgage again. As a parent and person making sense of weird thoughts every day, I enjoyed all the moments, peppered throughout the film, when two or more persons shook their heads in confusion. No words needed.
For example, Ray and famous author Terence Mann are bound to Minnesota to supposedly pick up baseball rookie Archie Graham (Frank Whaley). But the aged doctor refuses to go with them. What a waste of a road trip, both think, until they pick up a hitchhiker close to the farm who is headed to a baseball game. His name? Archie Graham (the younger one).
That’s life. Especially life with a chronic illness. Every checkup with the doctor is usually a head-shaking moment. “Could you just give me a little slack????” we yell either to God or to our spouses a few hours later.
I couldn’t help but think of my dream throughout the movie: to educate folks about mental illness and to offer support to those who, like myself, suffer from mood disorders (hoping to do so, of course, with a sense of humor).
I’ve encountered some unexpected interruptions recently. Disappointing sales figures. I’ve spent a few hours wondering, Starbucks coffee in hand, why I have a mission if the way to get there is blocked off for a toga party to which I’m not invited.
I have always assumed the best route for me is writing books. As a freelance writer for the last 15 years, I’ve cranked out book after book. When I finish one, it’s time to start another. But the rude block party on my street was a wake up call to all the other possibilities to pursue my mission, ways that might even be more effective than books: speaking, advocacy work, media relations.
It’s beginning to make sense. Like the hitchhiker who turns out to be the baseball player Ray and Terence went to Minnesota to fetch, I am seeing possibilities where, a month ago, I saw nothing.
I have a renewed sense of purpose. Although the details haven’t fallen into place, I am starting, once more, to trust the process and to have faith in my dream. I hope you have faith in yours, too.
Even if you’re the only one who hears the voice.