Last week I went to hear Bobette Buster speak at Calvin College’s January Series. Bobette works in Hollywood as a story consultant who works with major studios and is an addict processor at USC’s prestigious film school. As she was speaking about the methods to which Hollywood tells stories and how each of us should embrace our own stories I began to think which movies tell great stories. As I pondered, my mind kept floating back to “Field of Dreams” one of my favorite movies, a movie I have seen dozens of times. Late that night after the boys and Jess were asleep I decided to watch the movie, I am a bit of a night owl. I was instantly rushed back to the first time I saw that movie, my best friend Matt Herriff and I went with my parents to the theater. I remembered thinking it was a great movie because it was about baseball and I loved baseball, in particular I loved playing baseball with “Herf”, that was, and continues to be our nickname for Matt Herriff, my best friend since 1st grade. I loved playing baseball him because we were both so passionate about sports, we could play all day. I loved playing baseball with him because he was better than me at just about every sport we played and I knew he made me better. I have fond memories of a childhood of playing baseball with Herf.
I recall that later in life I appreciated just how beautifully the movie was shot, how moving the dialogue was, how James Earl Jones stirred up my emotions as he gave his eloquent monologue about baseball. I was moved by the passion of Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner’s character as he completely flipped his life upside down over a baseball field because he felt called to build one. How the sound editors picked the perfect song for every scene. Overall the movie is a wonderful piece of artwork.
Most of all I recall there was a point in life I realized that the beauty of the movie is in the importance of being able to connect with our parents. If you have seen the movie your recall that the closing scene is Ray and his father playing catch in the waining hours of an Iowa summer day. They are able to mend fences, Ray’s dad is able to come back to life via the baseball field Ray built, and they are able to fix much of what was broken in their relationship, they were able to make peace. Here is the scene if you need a reminder.
Most of you know that I am a pretty emotional guy and it doesn’t take much for me to get choked up, my Grandfather always says his heart is too close to his throat, unfortunately I have inherited that trait. That being said I dare you not to get choked up watching that scene.
As I watched that scene for the umpteenth time the other night I realized how blessed I was to have a father who would have a catch with me, who would take me fishing, or sit down and teach me how to lose with humility at a game of checkers. I had a mom who would bake cookies with us, who would sit on the couch and cuddle up and watch a movie with us.
Now, that I am a Dad of two amazing young sons I realize just how important those simple moments in life are. That hour at the end of a dock putting worms on a hook so they can fish, taking 10 minutes to sit and read to them, to hop on the toboggan with them and speed down and laugh your way down a snow covered hill, to make dinner with Will, to wrestle with Eli. It is important to “Have a Catch” with no agenda other than to simply be with your child, to build a better relationship, to smile and laugh. Unlike the movie we don’t get second chances at these things, we must to be sure we don’t waste chances to simply enjoy our kids. Unlike the movie we may not get the chance to make peace with our children or parents if bridges are burned or chances are wasted. Make it a point in life to never turn down the chance “to have a catch”.
I am thankful for Field of Dreams reminding me just how great my friend Herf is, I am thankful that it is such a beautiful piece of art, I feel blessed to have parents who were willing to “have a catch” and I am thankful that I too get to “Have a catch” with my two boys.