My friends have diagnosed me with #KDS, Kia Delay Syndrome, because I’m usually the last one to “get it.” In that vein, I recently started watching Breaking Bad, AMC’s hit series about a chemistry teacher who begins producing methamphetamine in an effort to provide for his family after he receives a terminal cancer diagnosis. Yes, the series finale aired in September. And yes, I watched my first episode in December. This is the essence of #KDS.
Since late December, I’ve binged watched Breaking Bad. Presently (as I write this blog actually), I’m watching season 3, episode 9, and two lessons have become abundantly clear: 1) I’m not built for the drug trafficking life and 2) every decision we make affects other people.
I’m going to assume that lesson one is pretty self-explanatory and jump straight into lesson two. Warning (to those who have #KDS): spoiler alerts ahead. Walter White, the chemistry teacher, started producing and selling methamphetamine to solve a personal problem. He wanted to be able to pay for his treatment and leave money for his wife and two children. Unfortunately, the selfish decision he made, even if his intentions were “good,” subsequently destroyed the lives of those that he loved and many whom he didn’t even know.
Walter bullied his former student, Jessie Pinkman, into partnering with him and proceeded to make a series of decisions that destroyed Jessie’s life. He destroyed Jessie’s home by forcing him to get rid of two bodies there, he sent Jessie on a drug binge after pressing him to “handle” two drug addicts who had stolen from a street dealer, he forced the street dealers into new territory which resulted in the arrest and murder of two of Jessie’s friends, and he was responsible for getting Jessie assaulted by his brother-in-law, Hank.
Walter’s action didn’t just affect Jessie. Walter’s involvement with drug traffickers slowly destroyed his family and almost cost Hank his job and life. Furthermore, he watched Jessie’s girlfriend, Jane, die of an overdose without intervening. Her father, an air traffic controller, then entered such a state a grief that he caused two planes to crash over the city, killing over 100 people and leaving thousands in emotional distress. One selfish, yet good intentioned, decision negatively impacted thousands of lives.
Walter has been forced to face the vast impact of his decision-making three times thus far in the series: 1) when his wife, Skylar, decides she wants a divorce and he loses his family, 2) when he listens to an auditorium full of students discuss how they have been impacted by the plane crashes, and 3) when he sees his family suffering when Hank is almost killed by the Mexican drug cartel. Each time he is overwhelmed by how far left his life has gone, but he always finds himself too deep in to walk away — a scenario many of us can relate to in some shape or form.
As corny as it may sound, Breaking Bad has opened my eyes to how my decisions affect other people. I may not be moving pounds of meth through my city, but my negative decisions, my selfish decisions for “good reasons,” have significant consequences on those around me. Likewise, my positive decisions also make an impact. So here’s to me making altruistic, non-selfish decisions in the future. I would prefer the trail of my decisions leaves positive memories behind, not a trail of tears and destruction.