Movies

I’m The Same Age As Ray Kinsella In Field Of Dreams, And Now The Kevin Costner Movie Hits A Whole Lot Harder

Field of Dreams came out a little more than a year after I was born, and over the past few decades, I’ve watched the classic Kevin Costner movie more times than I can even begin to count. I love this movie, have read the book on which it was based, consider it one of the best baseball films of all time, and can’t watch it without crying (you know the scene). But, I recently turned 36 years old, the same age as Ray Kinsella, and after watching the movie for the umpteenth time, it hits a whole lot harder.

Watching Field of Dreams as a kid is a different experience from watching it as a teenager, but watching it as a 36-year-old with a wife, three kids, and a mortgage is something else entirely. Come with me, as I walk through the proverbial cornfield of my life and try to make sense of this enchanting, emotional, and admittedly slightly terrifying experience. 

Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan in Field of Dreams

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Early In Field Of Dreams, Ray Kinsella Gives His ‘I’m 36 Years Old…’ Speech

Early on, right around the 12-minute mark, Ray Kinsella begins seriously toying with the idea of tearing up several acres of his cornfield to build a baseball field to ease the pain of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (played by the late Ray Liotta), or so he thinks at the time. Waking up in the middle of the night, he tells his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan), that he can’t think of any reason why he should before lying down and uttering a line that cut me like a knife:

I’m 36 years old, I have a wife, a child, and a mortgage, and I’m scared to death I’m turning into my father.

I’ve always loved this scene, as it sets up so much of the rest of the movie and leads to the great payoff in the film’s final minutes, but I never saw it as a key scene. Well, until now. Maybe it’s the way I can relate to Ray and his anxiety of being a husband and father, as well as having a mortgage that some months you don’t know how you’re going to pay. Or maybe it’s because it immediately sent me down a journey of self-reflection and self-discovery as I contemplate my own life and the relationship I have with my own father.

Kevin Costner in a corn field in Field of Dreams

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Watching Field Of Dreams This Most Recent Time Left Me Reflecting On My Own Life And Decisions I’ve Made

I’ve watched this film countless times over the years, and each time I pick up on something different or focus on a scene and how it relates to my life. During my most recent watch, I spent a great amount of time (and even more in the subsequent days) reflecting on my own life and the decisions that I’ve made that led me to this point. 

Never did I think, growing up in Louisiana, that I would one day move 700 miles away to the Midwest and marry a woman whose hometown had more cornfields than baseball diamonds or more heads of livestock than people, yet here I am. Leaving behind pretty much everything and everyone I knew back home was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made, but one I haven’t regretted once.

But still, sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep, I’m left alone with my thoughts, thinking back on those decisions that led me to this point. Though I’m forever grateful for this life, I’m sometimes left wondering “What if?” What if I stayed? What if I left earlier? What if I convinced my wife to let me build a baseball field for a ghost in the backyard?

Ray and his young dad in Field of Dreams.

(Image credit: Universal Studios)

It Also Led To Me Looking Back On The Relationship I Have With My Own Dad

Unlike Ray and John Kinsella’s (Dwier Brown) situation, my dad is still alive and we’ve never left things unsaid. Hell, I don’t even know if we’ve ever said anything to get under each other’s skin. And I’m grateful for that. I truly am. However, watching Field of Dreams this most recent time made me miss him dearly (remember, he’s 700 miles away) and led to me exploring our relationship, memories we’ve shared, and conversations we’ve had.

The older I get, the more I relate to my dad and take account of all the sacrifices he made for us growing up, sacrifices that I didn’t fully recognize or appreciate until I was in a similar situation. I think that’s one of the lessons you can take from the movie. It’s not until we’re older, more experienced, and empathetic that we see things for how they really are.

Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

This Is A Movie That’s About Redemption, But Also About Going To Crazy Lengths To Make Your Dreams Come True

Another thing that I love about the drama is the fact that it’s not only a redemption story about a man fixing the broken relationship with his father, but it’s also about people going to crazy lengths to make their dreams, and those of others, come true. 

When I was a kid, the whole middle section of the movie where Ray travels to Boston to meet Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) before going to Minnesota to discover that Archibald “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley), was lost to me. The older I get, though, the more it resonates with me. We’re all suffering in some way, and we’re all looking for some kind of redemption or one final chance to live out some wild dream or fantasy.

Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

I Usually Save My Tears For The ‘Wanna Have A Catch’ Scene, But I Didn’t Wait That Long This Time

The “Wanna have a catch” scene is one of those iconic tear-jerking movie moments that’s impossible to watch with a dry eye. Usually, I can hold off on the waterworks until this poignant sequence, but not this time. I didn’t wait long before I was turned into a blubbering mess, as I didn’t even make it past the opening narration. 

Ray talking about his father and his love of the Chicago White Sox feels like something out of a Ken Burns documentary, and it just hits me like a ton of emotional bricks. You know, it may come off as a sports movie, but this is a tale about fathers, sons, and the relationships they share. 

James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Seriously, The Final Few Minutes Of Field Of Dreams Is A Stretch That Never Gets Old

There was no way I was going to end this story without saying that the final 20 minutes or so is one of the best stretches in any movie from any genre. From the point of Terence Mann’s incredible baseball speech about why people will come to Iowa to the emotional moment where Ray and John finally get a chance to play catch after all that time, everything just works. I often find myself just watching this incredible sequence even without watching the rest of the movie.

I love Field of Dreams for all kinds of reasons, but one of the biggest is the fact that I relate to different parts at various stages of my life. And, like Kevin Costner watching John Mulaney’s hilarious Oscars joke a second time, I think I’m going to revisit this classic sooner rather than later.

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