Do What You Do Best

Scott Adams could benefit from some of the best advice ever given to Garrison Keillor:

Every time Chet came on the show, he’d sit backstage and jam with Paul and whoever wanted to join in, Johnny Gimble, Bill Hinkley, Howard Levy with a harmonica, Peter Ostroushko, and the tunes would flow along from old-time to swing, one tune emerging into another, “Just as I Am” into “Stardust,” Stephen Foster, George Harrison, “Seeing Nellie Home,” “Banks of the Ohio,” and maybe Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Boudleaux Bryant, “Freight Train,” one sparkling stream, it was all music to him. He held his guitar like a father holds a child, he was happy, the genuine article. He loved jamming backstage, where he wasn’t obligated to be Chet Atkins and could be a man in a crowd of friends. He had made his way in the country music business though his real love was jazz, and when he sat backstage with the others, a sweet equality prevailed in which strangers were old friends—the music made it so.

I envied that and asked Chet once if I should learn to play guitar and he said, “The world does not need another mediocre guitarist. Stick with the monologue. Nobody else does what you do.” So I did.

Chet gave me good advice: “Never read anything anybody writes about you. No matter what they write, you won’t learn anything from it, and you’ll probably read something that’ll be a stone in your shoe for months to come.” I could see the reasoning, which was the same as what LaVona Person told me in the eighth grade: It’s not about you. It’s about the material. Don’t make it be about you.

That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life, Garrison Keillor

The world does not need another mediocre political commentator, Scott. You’re not a great predictor. You’re not a great persuader. You’re not a great podcaster. You’re not a great hypnotist. You’re not an economist.

You’re a great cartoonist, one of the greatest ever. Stick with the cartoons.