On Success and Emergency Rooms


Everyone is good at something.  I’m good at going to the emergency room.

My EMTs always look like JCrew models, and from here on out, I’m requesting a gang of Steve Buscemis.  Actually, scratch that.  If I faint again, by all means, send Ryan Gosling.  But if my tibia is sticking through my skin, in all it’s white and bloody glory, please phone Michael Caine.


I guess Laura Ingalls Wilder decided to write me into Little House on the Prairie because otherwise, I have no idea how I got Pleurisy.  The ER nurses thought I was kidding when I told them what the doctor said.  This disease simply isn’t around anymore.  It’s like getting Cholera or Dysentery.

The lining of my lung is inflamed, so there’s stabbing pain every time I breathe or swallow.  I’m in agony.  There are two silver linings:  A) This is the best not-optional diet I’ve ever been on.  I can’t even drink a smoothie.  And B) they prescribed me Vicodinnnn.  Yayyy, you’re jelly.

After my editorial meeting today, my editor gave me a hug, and told me that LocalE will be printing my feature about The Surfer Stoke Project in their Orange County magazine.  I knew Surfer Stoke would be in the San Diego issue (in stores August 30th), but the Orange County magazine was a huge surprise.  I’m thrilled, which I hope, doesn’t border on bragging.  I got a sneak peek of the feature, and a professional photographer reshot some of the photos I took.  So visually, the feature looks amazing.  If you guys are interested in checking it out (I wrote two other articles, also), it would mean a lot to me.

When I got home from Orange County, I found an anonymous person had left a comment on my blog.  Here’s the comment, it’s about last week’s post:

Sounds like you are justifying your laziness and wallowing that comes about from making the same bad choices. If you can’t push yourself in a time when you think you’ve got nothing left you will never be great.

Ouch.  Tell me how you really feel.


I’ve been thinking about the idea of success a lot lately, and in his book “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” Eckhart Tolle discusses the idea of success ad nauseum.

According to Tolle, true happiness comes from an understanding that prestige, money, and power do not bring lasting happiness.  It’s about recognizing that there is more to us than the story of our lives.  Eckhart says a successful life is not focused obsessively on the future.  You make plans, but your sense of self-worth is not dependent on them.  He encourages, instead, an inner awareness, which is living fully in each moment; doing things just for the sake of doing them; seeing the beauty in the ordinary; and expressing gratitude.  And I’ve done my homework, and many happiness experts say these same things.

In our society, everything is a competition; everyone is a competitor.  When someone else celebrates a success, their success seems threatening to us.  We fight our whole lives for more stuff, because we think that by surrounding ourselves with the cushion of materiality, we’ll be safe.  We think that when we achieve this or that, that we’ll be superior to others.  That we’ll feel more fulfilled by being better than them.  But constantly living in the future, we miss the present.  And Tolle argues, in reality, all we have is the present.

What no one ever tells you is we’re hard-wired to help one another.  What separates us from the rest of the animals is our capacity for empathy.  Formerly living in tribes, never before in history have we been this isolated, and it’s not natural for us.  It’s not good for us.  Side note, we were happiest during the Paleo.

We’re lonely.  That’s a fact.  So why don’t we connect?  Why can’t we DO RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS, or smile, or reach out when we sense someone is having the worst day of their lives?  I wish, almost more than anything, that the world were more like that.

We think “most happy” is a fancy car, fame, or seeing your column in the New York Times.  Those things can be part of a happy and fulfilling life, but not if your happiness is contingent upon them.

In the grand scheme of things, in one hundred years, when your ashes are floating in the ocean somewhere, who is going to give a shit about anything you did in your life?  No one, and that’s not a bad thing!  It’s life!  A new crew will be roaming the earth and no one is going to know who Natalie Holtz was.  Who cares?

Being “great,” according to anonymous, is chasing after… what?  After status?  You can be a professor, a lawyer, a doctor, and still remember what’s important.  If you love it, perfect.  Success, being “great,” is living a happy life each day of your life.  THAT’S SUCCESS.  So however you decide to do that, congratulations.  You’ve succeeded.  You’re “great.”  And watch the below video.  You won’t regret it.

2 thoughts on “On Success and Emergency Rooms

  1. Oh, I don’t know. Seems like Anonymous was saying don’t get down when things go wrong, shake it off and keep going.

    Not really sure how that applies to you, because even with the setbacks, you haven’t seemed to slow down here at all, and in doing what you love on you blog, and carrying it out into the real world, you’ve already achieved greatness.

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