This belongs to Jessica.
This belongs to Jen.
My tattoo is from the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
I got this tattoo after my first year away at college and after someone had recommended me the book East of Eden. It was my first introduction to Steinbeck, and I fell in love with it. This word, timshel, made me realize that I have a choice in everything I do – I may, or I may not. I was given free will and the option to choose, and I realized that I needed to make my choices wisely. I only get one chance at this life and if we were given the power to choose, then we must make choices that make good use of our free will. I got this after a rough year in which I had made some bad choices and I got it to remind myself to not go down that path again. To remind myself to live with integrity and make good use of the free will that we have been granted.
This belongs to Cara.
My tattoo is a combination of 2 sources . I have a piece of Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 wall on my ankle. Then next to it (in “Elliott Smith font”) is the word “timshel” from one of my favorite novels, East of Eden. I went to Explicit Tattoo, and was worked on by Geoff, who did a fabulous job.
This belongs to Cassandra.
I got this tattoo as a permanent reminder of one of the best themes from its pages. I love the idea that nothing is prescribed, nothing is unable to be overcome; timshel means “/thou mayest/”: thou mayest follow a different path then your screwed up parents, choose a life of goodness, be the person you *want* to be. You can be a lesser person but you have the choice: there’s always a choice. It’s about evaluating options and choosing your actions. You’re never backed into a corner.
Apparently this book is Oprah-endorsed but that is a fact I’m willing to ignore. It’s a great book. Everyone should read it.
This belongs to Stephanie Crouch.
I got this tattoo the day after I turned 18, as a happy birthday to myself. I read the book East of Eden by Steinbeck in the January of 2011, the year before, and I knew from the moment I read the scene where the word is introduced I wanted it somewhere on my body. The word ‘timshel’ is Hebrew for ‘thou mayest,’ basically free will. I got it not only because I love the novel (it is my all-time favorite, and I doubt that will every change), but because it reminds me that any decision I make is my own and not others. I’ve had a hard time most of my life trying to make decisions, and this is just a gentle reminder that I don’t have to please everyone with what I decide. It’s the first of many tattoos to come.
“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”
Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”
Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. 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?”
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck