In the spring of 2014, as part of a speaking training, we had to craft a three minute talk from the prompt “I Come From . . .”

I loved this because I love talking about myself – and I love tying that into something bigger and making it relevant to an audience. I also love to talk about what’s inspiring me – at that particular “moment” in time it was Breaking Bad. And who am I kidding, Breaking Bad will inspire me till the day I die. It’s just that great.

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What’s the most important takeaway from Breaking Bad?

  • It’s not that cancer is bad.
  • It’s not that cooking meth is bad.
  • It’s not that manipulating vulnerable people to fuel your underworld ambition is bad.

All of those ARE bad, no question.

The most important takeaway from Breaking Bad is to observe and acknowledge the dangerous consequences of not living up to your potential . . . of seeing what CAN happen when we let ourselves be ruined by fear or some other lower level energy that thwarts our dreams.

I come from a family that valued art and storytelling above most else. We never had much money. I believe we were technically considered “poor” at certain points in my childhood. But one thing there was never a shortage of was books. Movies on tape. Stories. I learned a lot about who I am through reading, writing and deep conversation with my father.

One thing that stood out as we immersed ourselves in all that art, is that all humans have a dark side and it’s better to acknowledge and work with it than to avoid or deny it.

When we first meet Walter White he is depressed and underperforming in every aspect of his life. Living in that energy will take a toll on anyone. Add a terminal cancer diagnosis and his brilliant mind latched onto an idea. An idea sparked by the desperate need to find a source of personal power before dying. By a DEA brother in law taking him on a meth lab busting ride along. By a former student being vulnerable enough to be manipulated.

Walter White could have had a brilliant scientific career. He could have created a benevolent empire.

Instead, Breaking Bad ends with a tiny glimmer of something that could almost be called hope but we’ll never know. A few steps toward a redemption that could never be fully realized in a situation that was too far gone.

This is also where I come from. The fear of ending up like Walter White. Not that I plan cook methamphetamine, lie to my family, or hurt people.

But I’m not immune from my own dark side. The key is, I believe I CAN live up to my own potential, if I want to badly enough. That’s why I’m here.

 

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