One of my all-time favorite movies is Field of Dreams (1989; Academy Awards Best Picture Nominee 1990). Baseball, Iowa, James Earl Jones, Shoeless Joe, dreams, hopes, tears . . . sigh. I first watched Field of Dreams in a lecture hall my freshman year of college on dollar movie night. I remember hiding my face as I left the “theater,” embarrassed and red and puffy and emotionally drained. To this day, twenty-three years later, I can’t watch the movie and not cry at the ending. It’s physically impossible. In fact, Joe and I take a bus trip down to Baltimore every September to see the Yankees play the Orioles, and the man who runs the bus trip always plays a baseball DVD for the two-hour or so ride down. My husband, Joe, cringes when Bus Trip Man pops in Field of Dreams because he knows I’ll be a mess. Joe sees the opening and rolls his eyes and plugs himself into his iPod. He can’t understand how I can cry at the ending of a movie I’ve seen a billion times.
[Just as an aside, I deleted from this space an entire paragraph on Titanic because it really has nothing to do with my point of this post, which I do plan on getting to shortly. I can’t talk about sap or movies (two of my favorite things) without landing on Titanic. But I’ll save that for another post and try to get to my point. My blogging chops are out of practice, I guess. Focus, Jess. Focus!]
“If you build it, he will come.” In the movie Ray (Kevin Costner), somewhat recklessly risks his family’s farm and livelihood by listening to the voices in his head urging him to transform his corn field into a baseball field. “Ease his pain.” “Go the distance.” “People will come.” Ray’s brother-in-law, the angry voice of reason, urges him to get a grip and sell the farm or the family will be bankrupt. Ray doesn’t listen. He trusts the voices in his head. He doesn’t have to sell the farm because “people will come.”
So what would happen if Ray hadn’t listened to the voices? If he caved to the fear and planted crops instead of a baseball diamond, or sold the farm? Not only would it make for a crap-ass movie, but in the fantasy world of Field of Dreams the people wouldn’t come and Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other “Black Sox” would be up in heaven, instead of in Iowa entertaining the masses.
What made me think of this movie, and its famous line: “If you build it, he will come.” Welllll, I was looking for writing inspiration and like a magnet my hand found Julia Cameron and The Right to Write, one of my go-to inspirational writing books. In the chapter titled “Making It,” Ms. Cameron writes of how commitment triggers positive opportunities. “First we must commit,” she says, “then the universe follows the direction pointed by our commitment.” Synchronicity. She goes on:
We commit, then the Universe commits. We are the cause, the Universe delivers the effect. We act internally and the Universe acts externally.
I believe that if one of us cares enough to write something, someone else will care enough to read it. We are all in this together, I believe, and our writing and reading one another is a powerful comfort to us all.
The universe is not, to my eye, a cruel and capricious place. I believe that our desire to write is a deep-seated human drive to communicate and that it is answered by an equally powerful human drive to be communicated to. In other words, for ever writer there is a reader– or many readers.
Thus, if you write it, he/she/they will come. What do you think? Do you think that for every writer there is a reader? Do you believe that the universe “follows the direction pointed by our commitment?”
I sort of do. I believe that effort and commitment are enough to guarantee success. Of course, my definition of success may be different than yours. In my mind, the fact that you are reading this blog post that I wrote is “success.” I put it out there, you are reading it, and something that I’m saying hopefully matters to you. I love the idea that for every writer, there’s a reader.
Ray knew his plan to ditch the corn field for a baseball diamond was nuts. He knew it was impractical and didn’t make sense, but he followed his instincts and his dream and with the support of his wife, he did it anyway . . . oh my god, my eyes are tearing. . . I better wrap this up . . . Ray committed and the Universe provided . . . and then his dad . . . sniff sniff . . . I can’t . . .
While I grab a tissue, I’m curious. What do you think of JC’s words? If you believe that the Universe will provide you a reader, does the effort and time and vulnerability necessary to write become any less scary?
If you write it, they will come. Yes? No? Feel free to discuss. Or not. Just throwing it out there.
I leave you with a Field of Dreams quote, but first, in case you were wondering, Driving Miss Daisy won the Best Picture Academy Award the year FOD was nominated. Also, according to Wikipedia, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were spectators at the Red Sox game in the film. How did I miss that? I guess I’ll have to watch again! (Joe will be thrilled, haha). Onto the quote:
Terence Mann (James Earl Jones): Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.