During the final episode of Breaking Bad there was a scene that took place between Walt and his wife Skylar. Walt had a feeling it might be the last time he would talk to her as he knew what he was going to do that night.
In that scene he starts to tell Skylar the reasons why he did everything he did. Throughout the show we hear Walt tell her he started cooking meth to leave money behind for his family when the cancer eventually takes him.
This is a story she has heard too many times before and does not want to hear it again. She stops him and tells him she no longer wants to hear “its about the family” one more time.
In which Walt replies “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And…I was…really…I was alive.”
Basically, Walt is admitting that the two years he was cooking meth as Heisenberg were the only two years of his 52 years that he felt alive.
There were so many great scenes in Breaking Bad but that one stuck out to me more than others. In the end, Walt was sick and tired of being mister nice guy. Doing all the right things. Doing what everyone tells you to do. Playing the part. Letting others take whats rightfully yours. And more.
What started out as a way to take care of his family when he passed morphed into finding what he always wanted. To feel alive.
Isn’t that important? To feel alive? Walt knows he might die later that evening and if he doesn’t the cancer is back and it will take him soon. Nothing could be more clear at that exact moment. He is able to admit at the end what he really wanted in life.
It took Walt 51 years to find out that feeling alive was more important than family, money, and other things.
I kind of relate this to one of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes. “Its not, I’ll take care of you for me. Its I’ll take care of ME for You.”
You can tell how pissed Walt is when he discusses what happened with the Gray Matters Company he founded and took a buy out from. He knows he could have been some form of Heisenberg had he stayed instead of taking a buy out and teaching Chemistry at the local high school.
Now I Feel Alive
I have this running joke with my buddy Dave that when one of us fall when snowboarding we ask the other how alive they’re feeling at that moment. Both of us have had some gnarly falls over the years.
But that feeling of your body sensing something is wrong as you tumble down the hill or come up way too short on a jump slamming the knuckle because you were going to slow (me – not Dave) makes you feel alive. Yes – it hurts. And the only thing to do is immediately get up and do it again. Don’t think. Just do.
This is why I continue to go on our annual ski trip. Its one thing that makes me feel alive. That feeling of standing at the top of a run knowing that the slightest slip of the board could result in an edge catching tumbling me head over heels at 28 mph. Or that doesn’t happen and it’s another ride where all I’m doing is thinking about the ride. Nothing else matters at that moment. I’m living life.
It’s also why at the age of 37 I continue to keep on playing sports like softball and golf. Sure, neither of those are like cooking meth and being Heisenberg. Or even tumbling down a ski run head over heels. But there is something about stepping on the field or course and competing that still gets me going.
And what if we made all our decisions based around what made us feel alive versus “whats good for us” or a “smart move” or “the right choice” or “what makes the most money”? What if we lived our lives like this. What if our career decisions were based around what made us feel alive? Not money. Not status. Not consequences.
Football players come to mind. With all of the scientific data coming out showing how its a near certainty they will have brain damage and mangled bodies when their playing days are over. You have to wonder why they keep playing. My best guess is it makes them feel alive. Its the game they love.
For years I watched Deadliest Catch. You cannot tell me being a deckhand is a great job. You smell like fish all the time and if you’re lucky you sleep 2 hours a day for each three week crab season. But every time you step on the deck you don’t know what the Bering Sea is going to throw at you. Every sense in your body is on high alert. Same thing goes for the Captain in the wheel house.
It’s easy to say NFL players get paid millions of dollars and those deckhands get paid pretty well too. At the same time they could always go sell insurance and make a lot of money too. But they don’t.
When I take a look back at the jobs I’ve had in my life I think the more labor intense ones were the ones I enjoyed most. Washing cars at dealerships. And driving a box truck for Cintas where I delivered mats. What a workout both of those jobs were.
My time working as a management trainee for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and as a mortgage banker for Quicken Loans were a different sort of job. They were oddly more stressful than the labor intensive ones. Sales and customer service jobs are different beasts than labor jobs.
I’ve been self-employed for the last ten years working from home mostly doing internet marketing. It’s very similar to the office jobs I had. But what I learned from those office jobs was how vitally important it is to get out and do something that made me feel alive.
To make the ski trip a priority. To keep playing sports. To keep working out. And to try to mold my life around those things versus work that takes me further away from them. It’s extremely tough. Especially now with kids.
At the same time I know I have wasted a lot of time in my life doing things that don’t make me feel alive. Watching TV is a big one. Playing around on the internet. And not making the most of my time. I know I’ve done a fair amount of things so far but from time to time I think I could be doing more. Even if it’s just doing the things I enjoy doing more often.
Things are just so good in 2018 as it has never been easier in all of human existence to be comfortable. Feeling alive on a day to day or week to week basis has never been harder. Remember when you had to hunt for food to survive? Me neither.
I still don’t know how Walt found time to be Heisenberg as a parent to a teenager and a baby. I always thought it was a little too quiet in the White house with a baby at home.
The probability of me feeling Walter White levels of alive is low. The man took it to a whole other level. All while mostly driving around in a bomb ass Pontiac Aztek.
If anything, my takeaway from that scene is we should never feel we have to apologize to the people we love for doing the things that make us feel alive.
As long as its not cooking meth. Because that’s bad.
**I had never watched an episode of Breaking Bad til two months ago when Andrea and I binged watch all 5 seasons on Netflix. Its 2018 and the show ran from 2008 to 2013. I’m late to the party, I know. But man was it awesome.**