In the Wake of a Dream

+ leaf boat in water In the Wake July 1415507209_sThe dream began over thirty years ago…

An author in Canada wrote a short story – “Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa.”

An editorial assistant in Boston, intrigued by a one-line description, read the story, sought out the author, and helped him expand the story into a novel, Shoeless Joe.

Houghton-Mifflin published Shoeless Joe in 1982.

Though initially resisting a story about baseball, cornfields, and ghosts, a Hollywood screenwriter fell in love with the book and turned it into a movie script. After struggling for years to find backing, he directed and produced the movie, Field of Dreams.

When Field of Dreams came out in 1989, it was considered to be “too sweet, too magical” and was not expected to be particularly successful.

At the time, no one could have imagined that twenty-five years after it’s release, Field of Dreams would still be a known and beloved movie. It surprised everyone – including those who had believed in it and brought it alive – with the wake it left behind:

  • Field of Dreams was nominated for an Academy Award and grossed nearly $65 million dollars.
  • “If you build it, they will come” and versions of the title, Field of Dreams, are signature phrases recognized by people around the world and continue to be used to inspire hope, determination, and fulfillment. “Go the distance”also appears from time to time.
  • “Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa” became the slogan for a campaign to promote the state of Iowa.
  • A month after the movie came out, the first visitor arrived at the baseball diamond in the Iowa cornfield used to shoot the movie, fulfilling the movie’s prophecy, “People will come, Ray.” Don Lansing’s farm has hosted an average of 65,000 visitors per year from all over the world since then. People come to play ball, to “magically” emerge from the corn stalks, to see the Iowa sky, even to get married on the field.
  • Perhaps most significantly, the final scene of the movie, in which Ray Kinsella and his father reconnect, have a catch, and redeem their relationship, has inspired the healing and redemption of countless real-life estranged father and son/daughter relationships.

Who knew? Who knew that this movie – inspired by a book that began as a twenty-five-page short story – would reach and touch so many people, have such a following, and create such a legacy? While those involved may have had dreams of success, they didn’t know that there would even be a legacy – let alone one that would be as powerful and long lasting as this one has been.

That’s the way it is in the moment, during the work itself. None of us knows the impact our endeavors might have. We can imagine, we can dream, we can hope to have an impact, but we can’t predict, pre-determine or prescribe what the aftermath will be. And, actually, if we’re overly focused on what the impact might be, on the wake we’d like to leave behind, our attention to the project itself risks being compromised and diffused.

It slows me down when my attention is on desired results rather than the work itself. I lose my focus and my alignment. I do much better when I keep my head down as my grade school teachers used to urge me to do, and stay present and conscious to the endeavor itself and its Highest Purpose.

From that vantage point, in the moment, the here and now, I stay true to my project, work, or endeavor and let the wake happen on its own. But, it’s not easy – being in the moment is a challenge! So, I’ve developed a few questions/queries to help myself stay present to the work rather than to its outcome.

  • Am I coming from my heart in this project? Coming from my ego or my intellect pulls me away from my task; finding the heart-based point of origin keeps me grounded in love, Spirit, the Divine.
  • Am I in energetic alignment? When I notice myself struggling, it’s a clear sign that I’ve gotten off-track and I’ve lost sight of my Self and the Essence of the work I’m doing. Maybe I’ve gotten confused, or simply tired out. Regrouping by spending some time quietly out-of-doors, doing some other activity, or simply resting helps me re-align.
  • Am I doing my best? This question reminds me to collect myself to aim high with my work, to be at the highest vibrational level I can be. It truly keeps me present.
  • How will this endeavor be of help?” When I find myself drifting into thoughts about outcome (as I inevitably do), I notice what I’m thinking about – is it about an outcome that serves me or others? This question is a particularly good way to guide myself back into alignment and into the heart of my project. Being of help to others is an intention that raises the vibrational level and connects with the Divine. It empowers whatever I’m doing. Being of help to ourselves is fine, but the intention is most powerful when combined with helping others. Then, a both/and benefit is created.

In right focus and proportion, envisioning an outcome is not a bad thing. In a sense, it’s the vital start point of a dream to envision an end point, a result. Lightly held, this vision helps keep our creative juices flowing and keeps us on track. Lightly held, the impact we’re imagining can grow and evolve on its own, as it did with Field of Dreams. W. P. Kinsella wanted to write a book, a book that would touch people. Director Phil Alden Robinson wanted to bring that story to the screen in a way that would open hearts and move his audience. These dreams were fulfilled – with the added bonus of their work creating an even larger and more multi-dimensional impact than they’d dreamt of.

Twenty-five years after its release, on Father’s Day weekend, a thousand fans joined Kevin Costner and other significant people associated with the movie and book at the baseball diamond that is still in place at the farm in Dyersville. The people came… and played catch with their children on the field, ran the bases, watched baseball games, and viewed Field of Dreams outdoors, sitting on blankets scattered across the baseball diamond under the full moon night sky. It was a glorious tribute to a story that has entertained, delighted, and healed countless numbers of people.

You and I may never be involved in a project with as large and visible an impact as Field of Dreams. But, every day, we are involved in endeavors and encounters of all scopes and sizes. Who knows what the wake of our dreams might be?

While we may never know the impact of what is left behind, we do know there will be something there. And it will be good, if we have done our best work, stayed centered in our heart and held ourselves with the highest vibration.

That will be enough, and enough is all we need.


  1. Anne Miller says

    Beautiful, Janet!!

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