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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

When No One is Looking

B gets his tonsils out

The small acts of service nobody sees define your character. When someone gets a “good feeling” about you, this selflessness is one of the things they sense. 

My 4-yr-old is the undisputed alpha male in our family: assertive, obstinate and single minded. He is also the lover, the hugger, the one always reaching to hold and stroke your hand. For years, he suffered awful sleep apnea, so we agreed to have his tonsils removed 3 weeks ago. Jodi and I teared up, as they wheeled our cheeky little monkey away to put him under general anesthesia.

All went well and, as he came out of his fog, we stood at his bedside, stroking his matted hair and holding his soft hands. Still loopy as the drugs wore off, B felt terribly uncomfortable. His throat hurt and he was very thirsty, so the nurse brought two apple juice boxes. I pushed the little bendy straw into the hole and held the juice box to his parched lips. He tore through the juice, and as he neared the last sip, I said, “Don’t worry, there’s another box. Drink as much as you want.” B looked up at me through earnest, glassy eyes and said, in a squeaky, post-surgery voice, “But that one is for Kai.”

THAT invisible moment, apropos of nothing, represents who my youngest son is in his core.

B always looking out for his older bro

B always looking out for his older bro

Even in his extremely compromised state, with Kai far away at school, Bodhi, my pushy, caveman son, worried most about his older brother’s well being.

We are what we do, not what we say we do. If you help, it means you care. And if you care, you are 90% down the path to achieving something meaningful.

A good author writes quiet, revelatory moments into his characters to make the reader love and relate to them. Everyone you meet, work with, care for, is your reader. And these private moments translate DIRECTLY into your success in the public world. They inform the credibility and reliability people recognize when they look into your crystal balls eyes. When you pick up a piece of trash on an empty beach, you get closer to closing your biggest deal. When you help a struggling mother carry her groceries, you get nearer to finding a loving relationship. When you sit alone in a room with your grandfather and wipe his drool off his lips as he sleeps, you take a huge step toward your next promotion.

Beautify Your World and Yourself

Beautify Your World and Yourself

At the utopian experiment known as Burning Man, a “Gift Economy” exists, defined as a mode of exchange where valuables are not sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This is very different than our money-based economy or a barter economy. In each of these, there is a quid pro quo; I give you x and you give me y. In a gift economy there is no expectation of something in return. That expectation is replaced by the understanding (read social contract) that others will simply give you what you need when they can. Now, I’m not so naive as to expect the world to stop using money. But, when you assist another for the simple sake of being helpful, you exhibit a very enlightened way of being.

Chair, acrylic, oil crayon, graphite on paper, 23"x16.5", 2003, Stuart Sheldon

Chair, acrylic, oil crayon, graphite on paper, 23″x16.5″, 2003, Stuart Sheldon

It is not the whiteness of your front teeth, but the hidden molars, grinding away, that provide your body its nutrients.

If you want to help yourself, then help another … when no one is looking.

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