People Will Come, Ray

Field of Dreams is Kevin Costner’s best baseball movie.

If you are like 97% of the people I know you are screaming at your computer right now that I am wrong and clearly the correct answer is Bull Durham. And if you are my Dad you are the lone voter for “For The Love Of The Game” because even though my Dad dropped out of school in the 8th grade, smokes Marlboro Reds and has worked in a metal manufacturing plant for most of his adult life, he is the sweetest guy who’s favorite genre is the romantic comedy. The sappier the better.

That notwithstanding, while Durham has the cooler characters, the better one-liners and is clearly one of the best sports movies of all time, Dreams is more grandiose, more mysterious with a sweeping, fantastical storyline, incredible monologues and beautiful performances. It’s just far more romantic.

What can I say? I am my father’s son.

My only issue with the film is that almost everyone misses the entire point of the movie. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the mythology of following a hero’s journey as he forsakes the advice of his prick brother-in-law, makes a fool of himself and nearly bankrupts his family in order to be reunited with his estranged father for one last game of catch – bonding over the sport that was the catalyst for the break in their relationship – there’s no real life lesson in that for me. And if you are a regular reader of this blog you know how much I love to turn everything into a life lesson.

It’s not that it’s a bad plot line, it’s just that I can’t relate. I’ve never been to Iowa. I’ve never offered any property I’ve owned to sports-playing ghosts. My Dad is still alive. He used to come to all my basketball games and we still reminisce about what a good time that was. He lives in a house on Long Island. He’s probably re-watching Princess Diaries as you read this.

No, the real lesson, the thing that hits home for me is James Earle Jones’ “People Will Come, Ray” speech. If you remember, just as Costner is about to finally submit and sign his farm land over to that piece-of-shit Timothy Busfield, Jones’ (who Costner has essentially kidnapped) delivers this incredible soliloquy that if he just has faith, if he just holds strong to his belief, if he authentically follows through on what he has started that people will join him and he’ll be a success.

People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

A very good friend of mine who owns a CrossFit gym was mulling over the idea of dropping his affiliate. While he likes CrossFit it doesn’t really align with his training philosophy or the direction he wants to take the gym. He’s not really interested in teaching muscle ups or double unders. He doesn’t want to judge The Open. He sees that his population needs to work more on fundamental movements and getting more of a base level of strength and good movement quality. It’s what he’s best at.

But what if the CrossFit name is what built his community in the first place? What if his members feel comfortable being associated with a CrossFit gym? What would Rich Froning think?!?!

My advice to him: People will come, Ray.

He has something that he’s great at. That he believes in. That he should be giving to the community and the world. To not do it the way that he knows best is to actually shortchange himself and his community. Time to push all the chips in and sprint towards what you believe in. Be fully and authentically yourself and you will be rewarded.

For the record, just in case you are confused, his name is not actually Ray.

When we first opened the gym, with only a few clients and giant monthly rent checks looming, Kyle and I would take turns panicking. And when it was his turn to freak out I would often say to him, “People will come, Ray.” I wrote it on the whiteboard. I’d play the speech on our TV.

And so, I believe, that is the take home message of the entire story. That if you go all the way and fully commit to what you are best at and what you believe in with your entire being, people will join you.

Yes, I know this is corny and not as cool as jokes on the pitching mound about candlesticks or throwing a baseball at a mascot or maybe even as intriguing as a storyline about a dead father, but for my money this is a huge life lesson – along with never trusting a red-headed family member, Tim Busfield you son-of-a-bitch – and it’s what makes Field of Dreams Kevin Costner’s best baseball movie.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to call my Dad.