Breaking Good

More often than not, life doesn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. But — as I’ve learned — that’s okay. If there’s one lesson onto which I have grasped, it is the notion that life always turns out exactly how it is supposed to, whether or not it’s what we wanted or expected.

I listen to Joel Osteen a lot in my car. His SiriusXM station is one of the top presets on my car stereo. And one point he often reiterates is the fact that God would not allow bad things to happen in life if He did not intend good to come from them eventually. And while I suppose I’ve always agreed with this sentiment in theory, I’ve only recently seen a perfect example of this concept in action.

Breaking Bad is probably one of my all-time favorite television shows (along with shows like The West Wing, The Newsroom, The Wonder Years, House, and This is Us). The series finale aired while I was still in prison, but I watched it on my small prison television set at the foot of my bunk. Actually, leading up to the series finale, AMC aired the series in its entirety, in order. I’d seen a few sporadic episodes, but had never really gotten into the show. So I decided (with nothing better to do — I mean, come on, it’s prison) to sit and binge-watch the entire series as it aired. This, of course, took a long time considering I had to watch it with commercials. But anyway, something in that television show gripped me.

Breaking Bad, essentially, is a show about a high school teacher — Walter White (portrayed brilliantly by Bryan Cranston) — whose priorities in life became so out-of-wack, he reached a point when he could no longer discern the difference between good and evil. Walter White — “Heisenberg” — morphed from a regular guy high school science teacher into the quintessential villain. And in the end, he didn’t realize how evil his life had become until it was too late. Ultimately, he did everything he could to make things right, even though he would always be known as the villain.

I can relate…

I morphed from a regular guy high school English teacher into the quintessential villain. And in the end, I didn’t realize how evil my life had become until it was too late. Ultimately, I’m doing everything I can to make things right, even though I will always be known as the villain.

But there’s another character in Breaking Bad who deserves just as much recognition. Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) is a former student of Walter White who accompanies him on his villainous journey. And while Walter White’s ultimate fate was death (spoiler alert!), Jesse, in one of the final scenes of the final episode, is seen driving away from everything, having escaped the captivity of a group of neo-Nazis who were holding him prisoner.

No one really knew what happened to Jesse Pinkman after the final episode of Breaking Baduntil recently.

Netflix released a film entitled El Camino, which begins the moment the final episode of Breaking Bad concludes. It is the story of Jesse Pinkman after his time with Walter White. This film, for many, reignited their love for the Breaking Bad series and thrust Aaron Paul back into the spotlight.

Aaron Paul is an amazing actor! He won multiple Emmy Awards for his work on Breaking Bad (along with a slew of other awards) and has solidified his place television history as one of the most talented actors of his time.

But here’s the thing: It almost didn’t happen.

Not many people know this, but Breaking Bad was not Aaron Paul’s first appearance on an award-winning television show. Back in 2000, Aaron Paul appeared on The Price Is Right — as a contestant!


He lost the showcase when he over-bid by a mere $132. He was $132 from winning his showcase; in fact, had he bid slightly lower, he would have won both showcases!

In an interview, Aaron Paul said he went on the show because he honestly needed the money, and all through, he thought it would be his big financial break. And when he lost, he said it sent him into a deep depression and he felt hopeless. His acting career had not yet taken off (he’d only had a few one-off appearances on shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place). So, had he won on The Price Is Right, his life would have taken a completely different path.

Multiple times, Aaron Paul has given Vince Gilligan (the creator and writer of Breaking Bad) endless credit for giving him the opportunity to play the part of Jesse Pinkman. He was in a tough spot in his acting career and needed a break; Vince Gilligan gave him the break he needed and Aaron Paul portrayed his role brilliantly. He is now one of the most beloved actors in the industry.

But would that have happened if he’d won on The Price Is Right? Would his life have taken him on a path to Vince Gilligan and Breaking Bad if he’d won the sportscar and the money?

Perhaps, but not likely.

The paths we take in life are not always of our own choosing. Granted, our paths are often based on the choices we make, but when the consequences of those choices cause our lives to veer from our intended paths, it is a natural reaction to say, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” But here’s the thing: It is supposed to be this way! Nothing happens that isn’t supposed to happen. Nothing is a surprise to God. Nothing can change the ultimate purpose for each person’s life. And while we may not understand why things happen when they happen, we must always take comfort in one basic truth:

Your ultimate destiny is not determined by your momentary difficulties!

Times may be difficult — times may be really difficult — but regardless of the choices we make (good or bad), or the things that happen to us (good or bad), it will all culminate with the fulfillment of our life’s ultimate purpose.

I was a high school English teacher. I thought that’s where I would always be; I thought that’s who I would always be. But it certainly didn’t end that way. Now I’m a writer and activist, speaking out against the actions for which I am notoriously known. Perhaps that is my ultimate purpose. Perhaps someone out there has (or will) read my book and not make the same destructive choices I made.

Some of the worst things in our lives can have some of the best lasting impacts. Some of the most difficult times in our lives can transform us into better people as a result.

So when times get difficult, don’t ask, “Why is this happening?
Ask, “Where is this leading me?

Have faith.

Your life has an amazing purpose!

Just when you think everything is Breaking Bad, it may actually be Breaking Good!


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