Wednesday, July 12, 2006
If You Build It...
For the tenth time, I watched Field of Dreams, the 1989 cult film of the famous quote: " Is this heaven? No. This is Iowa."
But, I never really got the story line before.
As some of you, dear readers, know, I grew up in Iowa in the 50s and 60s. It wasn't the Iowa of Field of Dreams per se. My parents were merchants in northeast Iowa town, population 80,000. I lived on the edge of town ( we wouldn't have called it suburb--too pretentious ). Much to the surprise of far too many easterners, not everyone in Iowa belongs to 4H and lives on a farm.
I left Iowa in 1971 but returned through the years since my mother and sister were still there. As my children, both of whom were born in Iowa, started getting old enough, I'd tutor them on the staples of Iowa. " See that earth?", I'd say, as we passed a pitch black field with the nubs of corn stalks starting to grow. "Twelve inches of topsoil. The richest land in the country." They knew the different crops, varieties of dairy cattle. And most of all, I made sure they saw plenty of Iowa sunsets, the fat orange sun lowering in the late summer sky, making silouettes out of the waving corn tassles.
The summer after the movie made history, Christofer, my eldest who was 17 at the time, and I drove to Dyersville, Iowa, a beautfiul valley near the Mississippi River to find the real movie location. Tourists to the site were still a new phenomenon, so we had to do some asking to find the real farm."Turn left at the Harverster silo; go a half mile to the stop sign. Then, head right down that gravel road, and you'll run right into it."
The house was smaller than the big screen portrays, of course, a modest farmhouse surrounded by all that topsoil. But the ballfield was exquisite. The farmer who owns the land has it set up for playing ball. I took pictures of Chris walking the bases and exiting the cornfield that housed Shoeless Joe and the rest of team in the film.
But, what about Field of Dreams? I thought I "got" the story line when I saw it the first time, at age 43. The story of a couple who stuck together and risked everything for a fantasy, a chance to believe, homage to a Higher Power leading us to our destiny.
Last night, I saw a different film. This was the story of a man and his dead father. The story of the son's regret that he hadn't understood why his father was pushing him to be more than he had become. It was the story of a bitter, aging icon, Terrence Mann, who was tired of people not thinking for themselves instead looking toward him for answers. And finally, it was the story og a would-be ballplayer who couldn't stand the idea of another year in the minor leagues, and left baseball forever for a small town medical practice.
Last night's movie was about estrangement, greed, redemption, struggle, making choices that effect a lifetime, and the risk of wanting more with no idea of the payoff except knowing that the challenge beckoned, the hope existed for something more.
This movie's magic ( all right, so what if far too many loose ends were tied up by the end? ) is in it's willingness to show us how-- a tutorial about walking the walk.
Not a bad summer message, do you think?