Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Some Thoughts on Breaking Bad


“I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it's only a choice of attitude.”

Judith M. Knowlton

“If I've got correct goals, and if I keep pursuing them the best way I know how, everything else falls into line. If I do the right thing right, I'm going to succeed.”

Dan Dierdorf

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”

Flora Whittemore



I’ve been watching Breaking Bad for the last few days.  I’ve stayed up a little later than I should and then waking up tired, but I still enjoy the show.  But I think I might stop.   (If you haven’t seen the show, you may want to skip this blog and go watch the first season.  Otherwise – Spoiler Alert.)  Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher with terminal cancer.  He comes across as sympathetic and, in some cases, heroic, despite his decisions to steal from his school, and cook crystal meth in order to pay for his cancer treatments. 
Then in the first season, he makes a decision that causes me to lose respect for the character.  He turns down a job.  It is not just any job.  It’s a job that will pay for his health benefits and allow him to do the work he loves.  He would be able to quit the drug trade, do something honorable, and important, and provide for his family in a legitimate way.   In a later episode he complains about his job as a high school teacher, stating that he is overqualified for it.  But when he has the chance to change his life for the better, he says no.  The excuse he gives his wife is he is too proud to accept charity. 
Perhaps it’s easy to judge the character, because I’m not in his shoes (and he’s fictional), but to watch someone turn down an opportunity to solve his problems is something I don’t understand.  Recently I got out of an opportunity to do online marketing.  I see this as a different situation though.  First, I don’t like selling.  I don’t have much history with it and my current job is not that of an “overqualified” salesperson.  I don’t have an interest in or an aptitude for sales.  Walter White had both for chemistry.  Esteemed by his colleagues, he could have used this opportunity to turn his life around. 
Perhaps the allure of quick money was his real motive.  He only had months to live and perhaps he thought this would be a quicker way to get money.  In fact, in one scene, he mentally calculates exactly how much money he’ll need to provide his family with before he dies.
Unfortunately, shortly after his calculations, he has to deal with gangsters, drug addicts, criminals, and madmen.  This puts a crimp in his plans.  His partner, Jesse, loses all of his own money and they are both almost killed by the man to whom they are going to sell their product. 
I’m sure there’s more and I’m sure it doesn’t get any better.  As I said, I may not watch any more episodes.  The whole production is brilliant, but it hits a sore spot for me.  I spent too much of my own life making excuses as to why I couldn’t move forward.  One day I had an odd wake-up call.  I had been hired to write a resume for someone.  The fellow I met was nice enough.  Though I had never met him, he seemed familiar.  I soon realized that he was very similar to me in many ways, but he was the “anti-me.”  He had the same opportunities and abilities as me.  We were similar in background, temperament, and outlook.  That was where the similarities ended.  At every opportunity that I had embraced change and growth, he had rejected them. 
I’m not putting myself on a pedestal, nor am I judging this man.  The similarities may have been only skin-deep and coincidental, but it was still eerie.  I came away from it all with a feeling of gratitude that I had been given God’s grace to make different choices and that my life was, in most ways, successful.  Sometimes life was uncertain and scary, but I never gave up.
At the moment, things feel uncertain and a little scary again.  I don’t have cancer, but I do have some concerns, but I’m also not going to manufacture illegal drugs.  If the worst happens, then I’m going to keep writing, and keep working towards my house on the beach.  If the best happens, I’m going to do the same.  All I know how to do is keep moving forward.  I really don’t know any other way but to Get Started and Keep Going…and hopefully things will start breaking good.