Timshel: Thou Mayest

The word Timshel was brought to most people’s consideration by John Steinbeck in his novel East of Eden.

Timshel is a Hebrew term that translates into “Thou Mayest.” Which does not seem so significant at first. I mean why is this so important? Why do you want to know about “you maybe?” Why did I want to devote the entire blog post to this concept and document that it’s the most strong concept that’s there?
In brief, Timshel gives every one of us a decision about how to live our life and that decision is what brings meaning to each of our lives. Many who believe in predetermination or fate may find this idea perhaps even ludicrous and disconcerting. They love the fact that things are always known, no matter what their acts are. Even for those who think our decisions matter – this concept is imperative.


If the path is available then you will succeed or fail. It’s that choice which makes life different.

The threat.

The selection.

The power to personally win or fail. Not because it needs to be one way or the other, just because you have made a decision for better (or worse) and have thought it through in the process.

In John Steinbecks book, I love the line “But I have a new love for the glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed- because “thou mayest.” I love the fact that we are never truly shattered or totally vanquished. There is no such thing as a ‘life-end failure’ because life is a fairly durable thing only if we let it be.

Whatever we encounter, we are just as fractured and weakened as we want to be. Yes, we might get distracted. Yes, for a while we can give in to the darkness. Yet we still have another day. We still have another alternative. We and we alone get to determine whether to remain defeated or overcome the problem.

Our lives are not well crafted. Our victories and our defeats are upon us.

Not a Deity.  Not our parents.  Not our friend.


I just don’t know whether that’s scary or stunning. But even more important to understand is neither our achievements nor our defeats are permanent. We are filled with new chances every day, every hour, every minute to follow our dreams and what could be more beautiful than that…

It is a important lesson to know what Timshel means, to know that the path is open for each of us. Given previous decisions, or our present situations, we also have the freedom of decision. Others would run away from taking full responsibility for their own actions. After all, blaming others or trusting in luck is better than taking responsibility for what’s happened. It’s a shame, but fundamentally, that’s their decision. Even if we accept the power of empowerment and use it to enrich our lives, realizing that it’s up to us, it doesn’t tell us how far we can go- because thou mayest.

Stay Gold.

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