James Newcomb – Musician | Podcaster

Ep. 2 “I Am Awake!”

I’ve now watched Breaking Bad at least 6 times all the way through. It’s high-class entertainment, pure artistry in its highest form. Vince Gilligan, the creator of the show, knocked it out of the park every single episode.

Ep. 1 of Season 1 isn’t quite as polished as the succeeding seasons, and for good reason. The actors are still getting to know each other, the writers are still not 100% settled on the direction of the show. (By the way, if you enjoy Breaking Bad and want to get an insiders view behind its production, you need to listen to the amazing, insightful, masterclass in media production known as the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast.)

The show centers around Walter White, an underachieving, milque-toast personality mired in the slough of mediocrity. He’s a chemist who studied at MIT and is now teaching high school chemistry at a high school in

Albuquerque, NM.

He’s the picture of mediocrity. Although he had high aspirations at one point in his life, he’s more or less settled into following “the plan.” Play it safe. Get a job. Do everything you can to keep that job. So you can own a home and raise a family.

But Walter White discovers he has inoperable lung cancer, and it sets forth a chain of events which isthe show.

While the show follows a downward descent of a man from decency to moral anathema, I think there are elements of Breaking Bad provides many teachable moments for those of us who are tired of things the way they are. Following “the plan,” the status quo. They’re ready to “break bad” in their own way – all within the confines of the law of course.

Walt’s life has changed forever when we see the scene above. He’s received his diagnosis, he’s told off his boss at his part-time job at the car wash in a profanity-laced tirade, and he’s engaged a former student who’s now a dealer in methamphetamine – the highly destructive and very illegal kind.

The student, Jesse Pinkman, wants to know why this old guy all of a sudden wants to get into such a seedy business. And to cook methof the highest-grade and quality? Really?

Not satisfied with the answer, “I’m doing it for the money,” he presses further. Walt says, “I am awake!”

It’s an awakening that I believe we all experience in some way, at some point.

Breaking Bad is the story of a man who makes bad decisions in reaction to his predicament. It starts with disrespecting his employer, then lying to his wife. If you’ve watched the show, perhaps you’ll agree that the first major departure from morality and beginning headlong the descent into Heisenberg is when his former business partner offers him a job – with insurance that will pay for his treatment no strings attached – and he flatly refuses.

He’s “awake,” but we also see a dark side to Walt which precipitates his series of very bad decisions.

I started The Easy School of Hard Knocks and the Screw “The Plan” podcast for people who, like Walter White, have been on autopilot; who have followed “the plan” – go to college, get a good job, buy a mediocre home – and say “I am awake!”

It took some extremely bad news (lung cancer) to wake Walter White up and do something drastic like cooking meth. And we also often need some major event to awaken us out of our slumber. For me it was a divorce. For you, it may be a divorce (or on the brink of one) or a death in your family, or losing a job, or whatever.

Point being, you’re “awake” to the point you’re ready to say “screw the plan” and embark upon a career, a side hustle, what have you, that reflects who you really are as a human being. This podcast and its provider, The Easy School of Hard Knocks, was created just for you.

I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to figure out I’m not advocating you “break bad” in the serial lying, murdering, drug dealing fashion depicted in Breaking Bad. But in the view of many of your friends, family, co-workers, you’ll be “breaking bad”. Because you’re no longer following “the plan.” You’ve had your eyes opened and you see that “the plan” is for people who are content with mediocrity, who don’t think much of themselves.

You might find yourself on a lonely road.

Of course, you’re not going to be stupid about it, nor are you going to be a jerk to anyone. On the contrary, your “awakening” will make you more in tune with your emotional and spiritual nature, your interactions with other people. You’re no longer focused on your dead-end job where you’ve been promoted to “supervisor”.

You’re focused on the gift you have, the thing, the message, the mission, that no one else can do but you; making a real impact in people’s lives.

Perhaps this sounds a little too woo-woo for you, maybe a bit flaky. That’s fine; it’s not like you need to listen to this podcast. In fact, I think we’d both be better off if you didn’tlisten and refuse to touch The Easy School of Hard Knocks with a ten-foot pole.

I’m not trying to get haters to like me; I’m reaching out to those who, like me, had an awakening and said, “I’m done following ‘the plan’; I have a life to live, and doggone it, I’m going to live it.”

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