My Mom used to tell the story of when I was around three and kept asking for a “Toot –Toot” for Christmas. It took my parents quite a while, but they finally figured out that I wanted a corncob pipe so that I could be just like my cartoon hero Popeye.
I still remember how excited I was that Christmas morning to find a pipe among my gifts. I walked around with it in my mouth feeling like it was giving me special Popeye powers, until my parents kindly suggested giving it a special home on a shelf. After all, what would the neighbors think?
My poor mom was also going crazy with my singing the Popeye theme song over and over again. I wonder if she realized all that noise was part of my learning these valuable life lessons:
I yam what I yam: My hero was a man who showed up authentically, with no excuses. He was unique. He was vulnerable. He had good moments and bad. And, he taught me to always be authentically myself.
Stand up for others: Popeye was always fighting bullies and shifty characters who went after Olive Oyl and Swee’ Pea. While I am not much of a fighter, it could be said that I have made helping others my life’s work.
Eat yer spinach: Most kids don’t like spinach, but I ate mine because I wanted to be “strong to the finach”, just like my hero. I wonder if he is somehow responsible for my be becoming a vegetarian. Either way, he definitely taught me the importance of eating healthy food.
Great lessons for us all, aren’t they?
I’m just glad the pipe smoking didn’t stick.
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