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My Life in 30 Seconds

A friend drew this wonderful pencil sketch of my face as the basis for the birthday gift piñata she made for my party. I’ve found that my birthdays have always been a time of reflection. Last year was particularly intense…

With my father’s recent passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about his legacy, which has led me to think a bit more about my own.

And I’ve been reflecting back on my journey to date. I’m talking way back and trying to take in my whole life. What’s my story so far, and how has it evolved?

One way I’ve gone through this exercise is to review the photos I’ve created and collected over the years. They document many of the moments that have helped to define me.

Create a Photo Montage of your Life
Five years ago, I created a little photo project, which I’ve decided to return to and update. It’s been really useful to jog my memories during this time.

The goal is to select just a very few pics that represent my life so far. And then create a photo montage in a short video. The result is inevitably influenced by the chosen group of pictures, which will vary each time I try this.

Still, these photos do represent one way to look at your life. And I’ve enjoyed this exercise to help regain a broader view.

My Life in 10 Seconds?
How many photos do you select? Well, one option is to squeeze down the number to how many can fit into a defined amount of time. Sure, if you don’t want to restrict yourself, the video might last for hours. But what if you just limit yourself to just a fraction of that?

When I first tried this five years back, I held my video to just 10 seconds, and
I explored a few different photo montages at that length.

Okay… That ended up being a little too fast, as my pictures needed to fly by so quickly you could barely register each image. Some of my viewers complained.

So this time, I’m giving myself the luxury of a whopping 30 seconds.

Barrett’s Birthday Photo Montage
Each birthday is a marker in time and one simple way to collect a group of photos to tell a story. So here are my birthdays…

Though birthday pics can look visually similar across the years (mine certainly do), when strung together, the collection acts as a sort of time machine.

For many of these photos, I tried to represent my age by holding up certain fingers. (I eventually gave that up when I ran out digits!)

Barrett’s Life Photo Montage
Without the guard rails of a specific life event to work with, which photos should you choose to represent your life? Yes, that’s a much harder exercise and one that will take more time to figure out.

I created this draft, but it’s hardly ‘finished.’

This montage offers more visual interest as it shows me out-and-about in the world (as opposed to stuck in front of a birthday cake). But it’s still missing a key ingredient in any life.

You’re Not Alone
Of course, it’s all the people you know. Your family and friends are such as important part of your journey. You need to include them in any photo montage that truly reflects your life.

So, happily, I’ve still got a lot of work to do on that front. Until then, my little photo montage is hardly complete.

What Comes Next?
No, 30 seconds is not a lot of time. And hopefully, it’s not enough for anyone to really work with.

If anything, it’s just a taste or an echo of something much larger… and longer.

But I’ve still found it to be a useful exercise to try to hone in on just a few highlights.

And perhaps, it might help focus me on what my next highlights could be.

Time machines can work in both directions.

Star Trek: Picard has Finally Made It So

It’s taken 3 seasons for this “Star Trek” series to fully embrace the heritage of “The Next Generation.” Here’s why I couldn’t be happier.

In the same way that the MCU and “Star Wars” have expanded their own universes on Disney+, “Star Trek” has been successfully extending itself on Paramount+ over these past few years. “Star Trek” has three active live-action (plus two animated) series going right now with “Star Trek: Picard” just premiering its third season.

While I should immediately point out my excitement with the freshman of the group, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” as a must watch, “Picard” has significantly benefited from its own legacy. Watching it has always felt like sitting down with a cozy cup of Earl Grey tea.

That said, “Picard” was not originally supposed to be an updated “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It centers around the later life and new adventures of our famous Captain (Admiral) Jean-Luc Picard played by the great Sir Patrick Stewart. Picard is officially retired, but he’s still out there traveling the stars with a new set of supporting characters.

But who are we really kidding?

A Return to the Federation We Know and Love
Slowly, the writers have been bringing the band back together. And those episodes with classic Trek characters have clearly been the best moments of this new “Star Trek.”

And so now we’ve got the third season, which is clearly being constructed as “The Next Generation: 20 Years Later.”


Why wouldn’t Trekkies want to see this? You’ve got so many famous characters from the starship Enterprise to revisit beyond Picard.

As my twelve-year-old son would say, “Let’s go!”

The Reunion Tour Begins
I’ve just watched the first episode of season 3, titled “The Next Generation,” and from the opening animated starship flourish (now with the starship Titan) to the final reveal of the villain’s massive ship, I found myself feeling like a giddy teenage geek again. (I streamed it on my iPhone while taking my Metro North train to work in New York City. No, I couldn’t wait to watch it ‘properly’ at home on a respectable TV.)

This season is clearly going to be a massively enjoyable road trip down memory lane.

We already have Picard, Riker, Beverly Crusher and Seven of Nine. And this was just the season premiere. I know Geordi, Worf and Deana aren’t far away. And though we can’t have Data, the promos tease that Brent Spiner will be showing up as Lore.

Easter eggs are everywhere.

All of my brain’s nerdy nostalgia centers have been fully activated.

Computer… Open Spacedock Doors
The story starts with a distress call to Picard from Beverly Crusher, played by Gates McFadden, who is hiding in an abandoned ship under attack at the edge of Federation space. “No Starfleet,” she warns.

Well, that’s all we really need to again bring Picard out of retirement. And of course, his first move is to recruit his old Number One, played by Jonathan Frakes. And they quickly run into a well-positioned Seven of Nine, played by Jeri Ryan. (Both actors have already reprised their roles in “Picard.”)

The remaining reunions will follow on this final adventure for Picard. I’m not especially focused on the story. For me, it’s all about my favorite Trek characters and the opportunity to see them again.

Enjoy the Journey
My only concern is how the writers stick the landing at the end of episode 10.

Wrapping up “Star Trek” series has always been something of a challenge. Sisko’s plunge at the end of “Deep Space Nine” was strange. The reunion at the end of “Voyager” was rushed. Of course the original “Star Trek” series ended abruptly, although 1991’s “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” did offer a proper goodbye for that crew.

I’ve got to say that The Next Generation’s “All Good Things” leads the way in best last Trek episode.

Can lightning strike twice?

Well, I don’t have to worry about that right now. I’ve got nine more episodes of “Picard” to first relish across these next couple of months.

The third and final season of “Star Trek: Picard” is a wonderful gift to life-long Trekkies like me.

Thank you!

I Walked Out of my Childhood Home for the Last Time

I grew up in an apartment on the Upper East Side of New York City. It’s where my father and I posed for this fun picture that my mother took decades ago. This place held so many memories…

This past week, I closed down my father’s apartment, the same place where I grew up. When I shut his front door for very last time, the lock clicked with a painful finality. I will never walk in again.

He’s been gone for almost two months now, and I’ve been spending all of my spare time going through his belongings and clearing out his apartment.

I powered down his Verizon Internet modem and cancelled his phone number that was in place for almost six decades. It originally began with an ‘R’ and an ‘E’ (reflecting the word, ‘Regency’) instead of the corresponding numbers ‘7’ and ‘3.’ I can still remember how he used to proudly repeat the classic version of the numerical sequence, “My number is Regency 7…”

Last week, the movers came, and his furniture vanished. And then I finally walked into the moment I had been dreading for weeks. His place was entirely empty.

And then I had to shut the door.

Yes, it’s been a punishing few weeks.

Saving Memories
My father’s apartment was his castle. He filled it with objects and things that he loved. It was his own little museum.
My father seemingly drew energy from his home. I was influenced by that growing up. How could I not be?

In some ways, I approached clearing out his apartment like a type of evacuation. I searched urgently to uncover the most meaningful objects and photos to save.

But I think I wasn’t rescuing his belongings as much as trying to save my own memories.

It feels complicated.

A Child of the Building
Plus, I can’t help but accept the reality that I’ve also been struggling with the emotional loss of this Upper East Side Manhattan apartment that I grew up in and returned to across my entire life.

The 21-story apartment building and I were effectively born at the same time. My parents and baby Barrett were among the first to move in. And my dad was the last original resident.

I feel a type of cosmic connection to this place. I’m not talking only about the 15th floor apartment. I mean the entire building.

We grew up together. As a child on Halloween, I roamed its hallways each year with a small band of kids. I was there when the building was dark for 25 hours during the New York City blackout of 1977.
I have walked through its lobby with my father across the decades and two redesigns.

I am a forever child of the building.

And now, I am cast out.

I’m just beginning to deal with the loss of my father. Saying goodbye to his apartment is another blow.

I moved out decades ago, but I never really left.

My Mom’s Kitchen Pot
During the apartment clean out, I also ran across a number of my mother’s belongings, not to mention everything of hers still in the kitchen, which was her domain for over 40 years.

She’s been gone since 2006, and much of the kitchen froze in time from that point forward.

Recently, back home in Norwalk, my wife was cooking chickpeas and accidentally burned them, and the pot was ruined.

The next day, I found myself standing in my mom’s kitchen, and the perfect replacement pot appeared right in front of me.

It looked almost new, and it was, of course, spotless. Even with a light coating of dust, my mother’s pot still sparkled. And it called it me. So I stashed it away in the black transport bag I had.

After all of these years, my mom was seemingly still looking out for me. Still anticipating my every need. (Yes, she was always an over-protective Jewish mother.)

But I really appreciated this imagined effort…that somehow she was able to reach out across space and time with this loving gesture.

And as today is my birthday, I think I’ll extend out my psychological projection a little further.

Thank you, Mom for your birthday present. It’s perfect.

Yes, both my parents are now gone. And I’ve walked out of their apartment and the original center of my universe for the last time.

I’ve saved some meaningful items, a few pieces of furniture that my family and I will repurpose and lots of photos that need to be digitized.

If there’s any kind of silver lining to this grueling experience, it’s this: Perhaps I don’t have to entirely say goodbye to my childhood home. The memories of my life there continue to live inside of me.
And the photos I’ve retrieved will hopefully help to maintain the memories for generations to come.

Time to Move Forward
So now what? I’ve done a lot of doing. My back is sore, and I’m tired.

All of the physical work is finally done. I’ve returned home. I am present again.

It’s time to start some emotional healing.

I think that’s the best birthday gift I can give myself.

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