There’s this show that was on AMC called Breaking Bad.
I watched it when it originally ran.
The storyline is about this guy named Walter White, who’s a normal, nondescript high school chemistry teacher.
There’s nothing remarkable about Walter, unless you consider his mastery of chemistry to be remarkable.
But even then, Walter himself probably doesn’t think his chemistry skills to be remarkable — his mastery took him all the way to teaching at a high school. Big deal.
Things start to change, though, when Walter finds out he has cancer and a short time to live.
Shortly after, through dumb luck, Walter one day notices that one of his former school students, Jesse, is a small time neighborhood drug dealer.
Walter confronts Jesse the next day to tell him… he wants in on Jesse’s drug business.
When Walter realizes that Jesse’s product is crystal methamphetamine, Walter has a lightbulb moment: he can manufacture a version of the drug that is damn near 100% pure — a MUCH better product than the bullshit Jesse and other dealers are pushing in the streets.
Walter and Jesse can dominate the local drug trade with this pure crystal meth.
Jesse has been in the drug game for some time, though. And he’s developed a well-earned reputation as a small-time dealer pushing shitty product. Jesse is not highly respected.
So when a local kingpin bullies and beats up Jesse, Walter, his business partner, has to get involved.
Walter pays a visit to the local kingpin bully. In one moment, Walter utilizes his chemistry wizardry to turn the tables on the kingpin and command the guy’s respect.
In my favorite scene of the whole series, Walter sits in his car after that encounter and goes into convulsions of adrenaline.
He’s woken up his inner beast.
Over the next months, as he and Jesse dominate the drug business and make millions of illegal dollars, Walter grows more and more bold.
He takes audacious risks with his family and with law enforcement (his brother-in-law, ironically, has rank in the local police department). He kills people and gets away with it. He bullies rivals. His wife is afraid of him.
In the end (SPOILER ALERT!!) Walter dies from his cancer. But not before he got to — finally — live his life to the fullest.
From the sounds of what I’m sharing, it sounds like Walter took his death sentence and went, as we say, “too far.”
There’s a good argument for that.
He dealt drugs. Killed people. Endangered his wife and kids. Then he dies in the end.
Maybe he did go too far. And, this was a TV show — had it happened in real life, Walter White would be a cautionary tale, a legendary criminal who did things that “weren’t worth it.”
Here’s what else Walter was: the lion.
You’ve heard this saying:
“I’d rather be a lion for a day, than a lamb that lives forever.”
Everyone likes that phrase.
Yet, very few people live it.
People see the story of Walter White and say, he didn’t know when enough was enough. He didn’t exercise enough moderation. He lost the game by not knowing when to release the gas pedal.
Perhaps you’re right.
Do you consider the other end of the spectrum a “win”?
To never find out how far you can take it?
Never to know what it feels like to press the gas pedal to the floor?
To be the genius who never find out just how much impact your knowledge can have on others?
To meekly accept your death sentence (and we all have one — even without the cancer diagnosis) without ever pushing the envelope?
Have you EVER been the lion?
If you have to think about it, you haven’t.
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