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My View: How an Iowa cornfield feeds our dreams

By Sharon Cramer

As the 2018 baseball season heads into the ninth inning, summer moves from present into past. Days shorten, gardens morph and routines are adjusted to new responsibilities. How many times did those “I wish I could ...” statements of summer slide into home plate, getting accomplished with triumph? How many strikeouts did the wishes get?

I met a couple who hit a home run and made a wish come true: Driving from the start of Route 20 (Boston, Mass.) to its end (Portland, Oregon). Among their trip’s highlights was one off Route 20: the baseball diamond created as the field of dreams, in Dyersville, Iowa (population 3,500).

As all who have seen the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams” (starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster) can imagine, they were thrilled to walk across the perfect baseball diamond. They weren’t alone: More than a million visitors have journeyed to be exactly where the film’s characters connect across time.

Sharon Cramer.

When I heard about this diamond (along with the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, the Dyer-Botsford Victorian House & Doll Museum, and the National Farm Toy Museum), I planned my trip. When I arrived, I discovered a place that did not disappoint.

My foggy morning there offered my imagination a turn around the bases. The field and house look exactly as they did in the movie, when Costner’s character is urged to “go the distance,” because “if you build it, they will come.”

The film contrasts the urgency felt by the main character, to uproot his cornfield and build a baseball diamond, with the practical realities of his mortgage, his farm, his family. The triumph of his realized dream gives hope to viewers who wonder about taking such a risky gamble.

In the film, many characters lived their lives while silencing imagined futures, staying on unremarkable pathways, meeting obligations. The film invites each of them to pursue something far from ordinary, to experience the momentum that comes from letting go of hindering doubts, and realizing dreams.

Everyone to whom I have described my travels gets the same look; not only are they envious of my opportunity to see the real field, but they reminisce about the movie’s power. In many cases, their response to my trip has given me a glimpse of their own wishes. And I thought back to times in my life when the pursuit of dreams moved from being “far-fetched” to becoming a new reality.

It led me to ponder what it is about this film, about the tug-of-war of dreams versus habits, that has such power. I’ve come to see it this way: Untended turf of our days can deteriorate, if not for considering possibilities to explore. Throughout our lives, we show up to our fields of dreams — first days of school, the job, as parents, of retirement. We are in social situations that place new demands on us. And, like the characters in the film, we hesitate.

How do we find the courage to step onto each field of our own dreams — be it making friends at a transformed time in our lives, or trying out something appealing and new?

That moment is visualized in the film as characters emerging from the cornfields, and like them, we too emerge into a transformed time in our lives. The new becomes the normal. The tentative steps get gradually bolder until we, like the players, light up the board with dreams achieved.

Sharon Cramer, Ph.D., was inspired after visiting the field where the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed.

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