Work Hard and Be Nice

Sarah Eisner
14 min readMar 18, 2019
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

There are many different kinds of religion. There is the kind of religion you are forced to observe as a child and that makes you feel shame. There is the kind of religion that lights you up for God as an adult and makes you want to believe. There is the kind of religion — I am good or I am bad, I am this or I am that — like routine prayer inside your head. There is the kind of religion — Let Go and Let God — you adopt to try to ease I need this or I need that. There is the kind of religion that spreads across the cubicles, break rooms, and happy hours where you work, and there is the kind of religion you practice with your body on a mat, on a mountain, or in a pool. There is the kind of religion you openly reject as extreme or on the fringe, and then there is another kind of religion. It is the kind you don’t think of as religion at all, because it is all around you but not named.

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Ten-year-old Wilson tilted away from me on the two back legs of his chair and balanced there with the ease of a water buoy. He was studying, as I’d begun to notice was routine before he ate after-school-snack, the haphazard collage of our photos I posted to the bulletin board on the adjacent wall. I leaned toward him from across our kitchen-cum-dining room table.

After a moment he plunked down on all four legs and stripped off his favorite white Stanford tee, then seemed to focus on the image I never switched out: a year-old picture taken during a launch celebration at my office. In it my husband, Noah, my younger son, Ben, and Wilson and I are shoveling huge chunks of what looks like bright pink wedding cake into our open smiling mouths; in the background, my co-founder, my employees, my family and friends — nearly everyone I love in my Silicon Valley circle — are grinning at us, blurrily displaying teeth tinged pink with sugar and wine.

“That was a good cake,” Wilson reminisced.

“It’s good I’m home now,” I said, mostly to myself, though I nodded at the premade burrito I’d managed to heat for him. He looked at me with his deep blue, diving pool eyes.

“I kind of wish you had a job still,” he said.

“Why…” My stomach sunk and my voice caught, “…do you say that?”

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Sarah Eisner

Writer, reader, compulsive swimmer and apple fritter eater.