Things You Don’t Get To Do
by Jake Block
I was talking to a man the other day, and he told me that he’d really like to go see a Jackyl concert, but his wife told him that he couldn’t go.
I looked at him like he was from Mars and asked, “She told you that you couldn’t go to a concert?” “Yeah, Jake,” he said. “She doesn’t want me to go to concerts. She won’t let me do a lot of things, and you know what they say; happy wife, happy life.”
Now, I’ve heard the saying before, and while it makes some sense, because we would all like our wives (or husbands) to be happy, I have this problem with someone telling me “I CAN’T,” because I’m a grown-assed man. You MIGHT request that I don’t do something, and I MIGHT take your concerns under consideration. Perhaps there’s something that I have a previous commitment to… perhaps there’s a more pressing need for the money I would expend… maybe locusts or vampire bats are scheduled to ravage the town… you might remind me that I really don’t care much for Jackyl. But “I CAN’T” just ain’t gonna cut it. If I’m “paying the freight,” that goes double.
There are things I shouldn’t do. I know that and I understand that. But in my life, it’s up to me if I am going to accept my limitations or go against “what I ought to do,” in favor of “what I WANT to do,” so long as it isn’t hurting anyone else, taking food off of their plate, or money out of their pocket. If I WANT a new piece of camera equipment, and I have the money to pay for it without severely impacting the financial state of my household, I’ll buy it. If I want to go to the casino for a day’s recreation at the blackjack table, and I don’t have anything on my schedule that I should be home to take care of, then you can leave a message for me on my answering machine, because I won’t have a phone on me when the dealer’s asking me if I want another card. If I’m in the mood for sex, and the lady in my life tells me I’m cut off because I did A,B or C, and she felt I should be punished, well… the door is that large, upright slab with a knob on it. Walk through it.
You don’t get to tell me what I can eat or drink unless you’re paying for my dinner and it was part of the agreement for me being there, and if that was a prerequisite for me having dinner with you in the first place, I would rather eat alone at McDonald’s.
You don’t get to tell me where I can stay when I’m traveling. There are times I might travel on the cheap, but mostly I stay in 3-4 star hotels. My dime… I spend it as I see fit. Now if YOU are paying for my room, I might accept a two star hotel IF you’re paying for meals too.
You don’t get to tell me what I can do with my talents. A fellow photographer was once engaged to a woman who told him, “and after we get married there will be no more nude photography.” She lives somewhere in Ohio now, I think. Probably married to someone who never has an opportunity to come into contact with women. My photographer friend is thriving in San Francisco and shoots who and whatever the hell he wants.
I spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars learning my craft as a photographer and if I am freelancing, I will decide what, where and whom I will shoot. If I want a boss, I will take a job, and then he or she can decide what I shoot… during the hours they’re paying me! I don’t think anyone, anywhere could pay me what I would want to be paid for that kind of artistic and intellectual confinement. So, I’ll shoot what inspires me, or is enjoyable, vs what anyone else feels is a proper photographic subject. Jake’s rules of photography are no kids, no shake and take (awards ceremonies), no wedding or family party shots. If that doesn’t match up with someone else’s desires, I suppose it’s a sad state of affairs… for them. My art comes first when I am inspired to work with it.
We all have times when someone feels that they should have the right to restrict us, not for cause, but “just because.” Most often, they would never accept the roles to be reversed, and if you tried, you would surely be accused of abusing their friendship or trust. LaVey once famously opined, “It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful.” It’s hard to disagree. But it’s also hard to disagree that if you give up your personal freedom of thought and actions to someone else who you otherwise want in your life, you have to be willing to accept responsibility for a good deal of the pain you feel as a result.
Now, this is not to say that you should, as a rule of thumb, reject the advice or informational input of others. Sometimes it’s needed and it’s a vital thing to have. But in the final analysis, what you do in and with your life if your own business, and you and you alone have to live with the consequences, so one’s own counsel should and does carry more weight than even the most well intentioned advice from others. And no matter how comfortable the cell is, or how appealing the cell mate might be, I’m not going to imprison myself just because someone else thinks it might be good for me!