Woody Allen’s Manhattan opens on a black and white wide shot of the city’s skyline.
It’s accompanied by the unmistakable fluttering clarinet of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and then Woody voices over with: “Chapter One. He adored New York city. He idolized it all out of proportion.”
As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most magnificent and memorable moments in movie history. It’s a quick, nostalgic meditation on self-reflection, stillness, and romantic timelessness.
And it’s at the forefront of my consciousness tonight because I just caught a Woody Allen documentary at home, and when it ended, I watch and re-watched the aforementioned scene on YouTube.
But now I sit at Starbucks with “Rhapsody in Blue” flowing through my headphones and my iPad open to a blank page because I’d like to try to add a bit of magnificence to the world before the end of yet another day.
It’s Saturday night and many of the tables are filled with teenaged guys and girls because, even with the best of fake I.Ds, they’re still too young to make it beyond the bouncer at a bar.
I can’t exactly hear what any of them are saying because of the music gatekeeping my eardrums but I look past my laptop and start seeing the scene cinematically. As if we’re all in a movie.
It’s a wide shot.
I switch to black and white in my mind. I hit the back-button on Spotify to restart the song and the unmistakable fluttering clarinet of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” flawlessly accompanies the first frame of my movie.
They’re drinking iced coffees and sharing cookies and are full of smiles. Inaudible chatter.
I voice over: “Even to this day, with the girls I’ve dated, the friends I’ve had, and the remarkable metaphysical distances I’ve traveled, the ‘why not me’ feelings which once overwhelmed me as a kid are still lingering near the horizon and can quickly roll up to crash over me like rogue waves of envy.”
The camera pivots and zooms into my face for a tight shot. I’m caught in the moment, expressionless. But my eyes soon soften. I slightly smile. I take a deep breath. The momentous conclusion of the nearly 17 minute Rhapsody is heard.
I type to myself: “It all worked out the way it had to. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for who I once was. How can I now be anything but grateful?”
And then I type to the reader: “Feel free to feel the pain of your youth. But you’re in a position today reconcile with the kid you once were. Regardless of everything, you can still be magnificent. You can still add magnificence to the world.”
Today is your day.
All you have to do is take the first step and the next steps will take you.