“But, the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ – it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not’. Don’t you see?”
Lee, East of Eden – John Steinbeck
This quote originated from the discussion on the correct translation of the Hebrew word timshel and its intended original meaning, where the word appeared in a chapter in the Bible discussing whether men shall triumph over sin. It was translated differently in various versions of the Bible, and so as it could be translated as:
(a) God promises Cain that he will conquer sin (“thou shalt rule over him”)?
(b) God orders Cain to conquer sin (“Do thou rule over him”)?
(c) God blesses Cain with free will, leaving the choice to him (“Thou mayest rule over him”)?
The most different translation, also the one that I chose to believe, is the third one – “Thou mayest”. In the quote, it stated clearly why -because it gives men the choice in their lives for their free will, for all the evil and good stumbled upon us, we still have the great choice, to choose our course and fight it through and win. This is a question that clings right back to me, as a being, on all matter in lives or on simply how we chose to be ourselves, there is a choice, we are born with it and no body can take that away from us. We can choose to be the best of us at every thing, or not. We can choose to be who ever we want to be and not trapped in the social ideologies, or not. We can hold on tight to the choice that we’re born with and make very good use of it to live our lives, or not. The choice is towards you, yet you can conquer it.
It correlates with my belief that what and who ever you are, you are born with the choice to be it. We don’t need to fall into the different categories in society and life, because we don’t need them to tell us who we are and what we should do, it limits our lives. I don’t believe those categories can conclude the versatile lives one can own, simply by their identical similarities or differences. We are all a bit of everything, and it is silly to reckon our lives is destined at some point and gave up to that, and follow what it seems to be “easy”.
I recalled the memory when I was first introduced to East of Eden, there came a point where my whole life was changed by it, because of the art of story, the people and the discussion of “timshel”. It reminded me of the freedom that my will gave me, and of those opportunities when I chose not to confront my weaknesses and problems, because I thought they were too strong and it left me with no choice. It brought me the epiphany on how I possess the power to choose for my life, that my qualities and what I want as a being are in all ways matter and valuable. And I can see more choices ahead, for dream, for life, for everything that enables me, and I can fight for them with my bare hands.
The choice is towards you, yet you can conquer it, because “thou mayest”.