If You Build it, Will They Come?
What is the relationship between intent and outcome? Does the Field of Dreams quote, “if you build it, they will come” have truth to it? Not exactly, but it does allude to an important and true concept (which is likely why we still quote, and mis-quote, it today).
Field of Dreams as a Metaphor for the Law of Attraction
Metaphorically speaking, attention plants a seed, while effort, time, and action give the seed the best opportunity to grow and thrive. However, there is no certainty the seed will grow, what the plant will look like, or whether it will produce fruit (that’s all up to nature and luck). Planting the seed and tending to it increases the odds that it’ll grow something, but it doesn’t ensure it.
The inverse, however, has more certainty. If you pay no attention to an idea and make no effort to manifest it, you decrease the odds of it materializing. If it does materialize it will almost certainly come from someone else who dedicated attention and effort over time. The more time, attention, effort, and thought you apply to an idea the more likely it is that something will come of it. If we build a baseball diamond and never go there again there is less chance of people coming. If we put effort into tending to the field and we are more likely to attract an audience.
Despite this, things are rarely guaranteed to happen in a specific way despite our intentions or effort. Some things that we work for simply never manifest, never manifest in a recognizable way, or do not manifest in the time-frame expected.
Where Does the Quote “If You Build it, They Will Come” Come From?
If you build it they will come is a misquote from Field of Dreams. The actual quote is:”If you build it, he will come” (not they). This is a line from the 1989 Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams.
In the movie, Costner’s character Ray is struggling with his relationship with his deceased father who was a devoted baseball fan. Walking in his cornfield one night he hears a voice telling him “If you build it, he will come”. The voice is accompanied by a vision of a baseball diamond in the cornfield.
A clip of the scene from Field of Dreams where it says “If you build it, he will come”.
Despite facing financial ruin, he plows over his cornfield to create the baseball diamond in his vision. Despite doubts, Ray believes in the voice and sees visions of old baseball players playing on the field with him (although no one else can see them). He follows other visions and voices bringing old players (alive and dead) to the field giving them a second chance at living their dreams.
A clip showing Ray not giving up on his dreams after hearing Terence Mann’s (James Earl Jones) “Baseball has been the one constant throughout the years… reminding us of what was and what could be again” speech. He also says “people will come Ray” (the they).
The story twists and turns, Ray makes peace with the characters including his father, and in the end, the audience and Ray are left in doubt that there was really any ghosts at all (implying it was all in Ray’s head).
A clip from the end of Field of Dreams where Ray talks to his father as a young man (he did come).
The movie closes with the hundreds of cars approaching the baseball field. In other words, he built, they came, and he mended his relationship with his father… although the outcome was different from what he imagined.
In this way, the movie is a metaphor for an age-old idea that is sometimes described as “the secret” in popular culture.
FACT: The iconic line “If you build it, he will come” from Field of Dreams is often confused with “If you build it, they will come”. “If you build it, they will come” is never said in the movie but remains the line most often used in popular culture. In the movie, the phrase “people will come” is used in an iconic speech given by Terence Mann played by James Earl Jones mid-way through the film. This could be the root of the confusion.
The Law of Attraction, the Manifestation of Thought, and Field of Dreams
There is a concept called, “The Law of Attraction“. In simple terms, it’s the idea that thought can bring things into your life because “like attracts like”. If you think happy thoughts, you will be happy. If you believe in something enough, you will attract it into your life. This concept is often misunderstood to mean that if we believe in something enough it will happen. In reality, there is no guarantee something will happen or happen as intended, but one’s mindset may well be instrumental in increasing the probability that a thing will happen.
In the Field of Dreams metaphor, action, time, and effort are added to thought. Even then there is no guarantee. In the movie, even though Ray builds the Field and they come, it doesn’t exactly happen in his time frame or in the way he intended. In real life, it sometimes doesn’t happen at all regardless of desire or effort.
Still, manifesting reality with thought and willpower is an old concept that can be seen throughout history in phrases like “mind over matter” and “manifesting one’s will”. In fact, anytime we take something from an idea and apply it to reality we are “manifesting thought as reality”. If you think about building it but take no action, nothing happens; if you take action, you increase the probability of a desired outcome. The more time, effort, and attention you give to a thought and project, the greater chance of its success.