“But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”-John Steinbeck

Timshel. Thou mayest. Such a simple word, really. The above quote comes from Steinbeck’s East of Eden, which just so happens to be my favorite novel of all time. And it’s incredibly difficult for me to play favorites.

Perhaps you’ve come upon it by way of Mumford and Sons. Either way, you’ve stumbled upon it now, and I congratulate you.

Lee, a supporting character from Steinbeck’s novel, argues that timshel is easily the most important word in the English language. As he says, it makes man great. It gives man choice. Free will, even. Because even in your darkest, most jaded moments, you can choose to get up, brush yourself off, and try again. Even when you make the gravest of mistakes, you can forgive yourself. You can, and that’s what’s so important about timshel. Thou mayest. So will you or won’t you?


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