Patrick Stewart’s memoir, Make it So, was the second book I finished reading in 2024. I started reading this book after finishing all three seasons of Picard, and was watching seasons one and two of The Next Generation on Blu-Ray while reading this book. This book was not just about his career as Captain Picard; while just over the last quarter of it was, this is very much a book about his life and the hardships he overcame while maintaining a positive outlook throughout and being guided by the light of his cultivated passion in acting and of Shakespeare.

The reason why this book interests me is because Patrick Stewart is an individual who fascinates me. Before Star Trek The Next Generation, I really wasn’t a fan of Star Trek at all. I knew of its existence, and watched Wrath of Khan with my peers during a movie night at the local arena, but Star Trek really wasn’t my thing. The plots were too deep for me to comprehend as a child, and I saw through the low budget special effects. I was more of a Star Wars fan. Battlestar Galactica was more my flavour. I would much rather watch the Six Million Dollar Man than a rerun of Star Trek.

Inside Patrick Stewart’s Memoir

When The Next Generation arrived in September of 1987 with Encounter at Farpoint, I was right in the middle of my adolescence. There was much fanfare surrounding it, but when I watched the first episode, I was not impressed. Why would they have this old bald headed man as the captain of the Enterprise? Wouldn’t they have solved baldness in the future? Why did the Android look like a guy in makeup and not like C3-P0? I dismissed the series early on, going back to the Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court series that appealed to my adolescent mind. Then, as these shows wound down, I dismissed television almost entirely in favour of my new 2400 baud modem, bulletin board systems, FidoNet, and my off line mail reader.

As I developed into adulthood, I couldn’t help but notice all of the Star Trek references in the posts and in some of the witty taglines that many used to sign off with in the online message groups. The series continued all the way to season 5 and 6 before I realized there was more to this show than what I knew, and so I decided to give it another chance. The earlier seasons would play in order every week on a local TV station; this was the primary reason why I bought a used VCR, hooked it up to my Commodore monitor, and programmed it to record each and every episode of Star Trek The Next Generation which I would watch every weekend and learn about how wrong I was about this show and Patrick Stewart.

Inside Patrick Stewart’s Memoir

As the follies of my youth began to wash away, Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard was teaching me fundamental truths about life and how to live. In “The Wounded,” he taught me, “When one has been angry for a very long time, one gets used to it. And it becomes comfortable, like…like old leather. And finally it becomes so familiar that one can’t ever remember feeling any other way.” The anger of my youth was holding me back, and I had to let it go. In “When the bough breaks,” he taught me the value of finding solutions to difficult problems; “Things are only impossible until they’re not.” In “Coming of Age,” he taught me, “The only person you’re truly competing against is yourself.” And on and on it went. The Next Generation was a much deeper show than I had thought, and Patrick Stewart turned out to be the perfect person to play the role of this captain, in spite of the prejudices of my youth. Through his art and trade as an actor, he transformed himself in my mind from someone I had dismissed to someone I had great reverence for, and if a man like him could do that, then anything was possible. His strength of character wasn’t from hiding his vulnerabilities, but in accepting them. His portrayal as a revered captain of the flagship of Starfleet was so convincingly real, he was instrumental as a role model for me to turn my own life around, to rediscover my own light and to be guided by it. So now you understand why, when I saw this book at Costco, I had to buy it and read it.

What a book this is; what a man Patrick Stewart is. The book starts with the working class poverty of his North England childhood; his own struggles, failures, and disappointments. His own prejudices that he came to terms with. How he turned liabilities, such as his early baldness, into assets that furthered his unlikely career as an actor. The rejections that fuelled the doubts he struggled with. And yet he persevered; at times, seemingly against his own interests. It is written every bit as well as he speaks. As I read his book, I heard his voice in my head, and the times I spent with this book felt as though I was spending time with Patrick Stewart himself, sharing with me intimate details about his life. The old photographs in the middle of the book really added a dimension of immersion to his words; allowing me to see for myself into his youth. Some parts of his memoir made me laugh out loud, while others brought a tear to my eye. It’s like listening to a kindly grandfather reflect and share the stories of his own life. That’s not to say Patrick Stewart is a perfect man; far from it. There were stories he told of his own behaviour as a child and as a husband that made me see he was just as fallible as any of us are. His failures help to reinforce that he is just like any one of us. I really don’t want to spoil this book by writing too much about it, but I think it’s important to recognize the value in this; that, perhaps the only thing that differentiates him and his success from all those who have failed were all the people that cared about him and helped him to keep on cultivating his passion; to keep him on the path of his own light.

Inside Patrick Stewart’s Memoir

I’m so glad Patrick Stewart decided to share the intimate details of his life with us. He shows us what unwavering dedication and discipline in cultivating our passion can get us. His life is a story that’s worth reading, and I’m fortunate to not have just dismissed him as some old, bald guy. I might not even be the person I am today if it wasn’t for him and his show.