Popeye, a Can of Spinach, and a Boy Named Abdullah

Recently, I had a series of conversations with a few different friends that inspired me to write this blog.

The first conversation was with a friend named Sam.

Sam told me that he found that certain milestones no longer motivated him in the same manner they had earlier in his life. Sam is extraordinarily successful individual both personally and professionally. Additionally, he has overcome many challenges along the way.

Considering Sam’s search for new sources of motivation, I told him “Sam, you need to find a new can of spinach! Popeye routinely opened a can of spinach, gulped it down, and suddenly his strength was restored.” As Sam evolved and grew, he no longer reacted to his personal cans of spinach in the same way.

As we journey through life it is important that we take time to reflect. We must consider what aspects of our lives are constants and what are variables that need to adapt to our as we change and grow.

The second conversation was with a friend named Athena.

My friend Athena is a lifelong learner, continuously seeking new sources of knowledge and wisdom. Athena told me about how she found that children can be our greatest teachers. She described both learning from her teachers and from her students.

I learned that youth is not just a matter of biology. It can also be about philosophy. Youthful perspectives can stimulate fresh developments of the body and fight off calcification of the mind.

The final conversation that inspired me was one I had with a friend named Faisal. I had joined his family in Malta for a vacation.

One day, Faisal announced that we were going scuba diving. I had never been scuba diving before. Faisal is kind of a superman guy who is both athletic and adventurous. If I’m being perfectly honest, I was afraid.

During the drive to the diving spot, Faisal’s youngest son, Abdulla, a precocious 9-year-old, told me that he was not afraid and I did not need to be afraid either. He told me: “Uncle Andy, I will be right next to you. We can do it together! Trust me!”

The time to dive arrived. When I began to lower my head and mask below the water, I watched Abdulla and learned from his lead. My fear faded and my hopes soared. It was simply majestic to discover a new world under the water’s surface. I truly felt transformed. My trust and faith revealed an entire new world of possibilities.

On drive back from the dive, we passed the actual set of the 1980s “Popeye” movie filmed in Malta.

I didn’t consider the meaning of seeing the movie set of Popeye until my conversations with Sam and Athena.

Sam’s metaphorical loss of appetite for “Spinach” helped me reflect on our search for potential eternal sources of inspiration. Athena helped me think about our search for great teachers and the need for learning regardless of one’s biological age. Abdulla taught me to overcome fear.

When I combined these lessons from these three seemingly unrelated encounters, I realized that faith is my source of strength and that by trusting others, I could transform to cross new boundaries.

When I looked to the bible, the story of David vs. Goliath came to mind.
(In 1 Samuel 17, the story of David vs. Goliath unfolds.)

David knew who he was. He was not a warrior in military garb. He was a young and simple shepherd son whose source of strength was not a sword made by man, but his faith in G-d. Although he was the youngest, by defeating the Goliath, he was able to teach his community that one’s inner confidence emanates from an external source of faith.

While Popeye’s Can of Spinach can restore his strength and help win a fight. David’s faith in g-d, helped transform him into greatest potential, from a simple shepherd boy who defeated Goliath, to the leader and King of Israel.

With faith in G-d, it is not a limit of what we can be but rather what we can become.

I invite you to seek a new “Can of Spinach”, new teachers, and with renewed faith, to transform to cross new boundaries and evolve to new possibilities.

In 1 Samuel 17, the story of David vs. Goliath unfolds.

Goliath, the Philistine giant, an experienced warrior taunted the Children of Israel for 40 days. (10)  “Give me a man and let us fight each other”

 David, the youngest of 7 sons of Jesse, a simple shepherd who had not previously acted in war.

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

But David said to Saul, The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

Additional Reading:

You can read more about the Popeye Movie Set in Malta here.

Did you know that March 26th is National Spinach Day?

Andy’s maiden deep sea scuba dive, thanks to a boy named Abdullah!