East of Eden, to simply put it, is a long damn book. It wasn’t one I read in a single sitting like Of Mice and Men or Tortilla Flat, but one that I read as fast as my eyes would let me.
I picked up the worn copy my dad had given me, the front paperback cover had all but fallen off, the pages felt used beneath my hands and I read the opening line. It wasn’t an overly impressive opening line, all Steinbeck was talking about was topography.
It’s strange to me how I cannot recall the time I read any other works of John Stienbeck, Of Mice and Men being the first. I know the stories and I’ve probably read at the least five of his novels with many more awaiting me.
But I do remember it being late in February of 2016. I had been dumped, that’s another story for another time, and I was feeling unaccomplsihed with myself. I was down about life and needing a win. So what better way then to hunker down with an epic?
I told myself if I could just sit down and finish the book then my life would back into place. Things would just make sense again.
It’s kinda ridiculous to think a book could make the world turn right again. But it did.
It all boils down to one word: Timshel.
Personally I don’t speak Hebrew and I cannot read it. My grandfather is the only person I know who can translate Hebrew. I’ll save you all sometime form having to track him down or find your own expert and go ahead and tell you what it means in english.
Thou mayest. The word Timshel is all about the ability to choose and the ability to triumph. Or at least that’s what the book says. Maybe my grandfather could give me a more intellectual understanding one day?
And while I’m probably straying a little of course with the book, I’m going to relate it back to the time I felt that if only I could make it through that book that my world would make sense.
I finished the book, the worn paperback cover had fallen off, and the used pages had soaked into my finger prints and I cried.
I understood why I was so drawn to that book, I have the ability to choose how I handle the hurt, the feelings of betrayal, and my life being turned upside down. I have the ability to triumph over the past and come out a better me.
Today I leave you with one word of advice to carry with you, Timshel.
Pictured: Me at the John Steinbeck museum. 6 weeks before I read East of Eden.