“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.’”
– John Steinbeck, East of Eden
East of Eden is my favorite book of all time, and I knew the moment I first read these three paragraphs that I had encountered something profound. I think the words “thou mayest” are emblematic of the balance of free will, equal parts all-encompassing possibility and personal morality, and that’s an emblem I don’t mind having on my body forever. 2012 was the year of no regrets, and getting my first tattoo hasn’t upset the year’s theme: I love my tattoo, and I’m glad I did it. Now, on to the next.
My tattoo was done by Chris at Liberty Tattoo in Seattle, Washington.
Posted in 24 Before 25, Literary Giants, The Life de la Kendall
Tagged 24 before 25, east of eden, free will, freedom, john steinbeck, liberty tattoo, morality, possibility, regret, tattoo, thou mayest
As you may have noticed, it’s been quiet around here for a while. In the past couple weeks, I’ve found myself in a season of life that is solidly transitional across the boards: I left the job that I loathed for an unpaid writing internship that, several weeks into, I continue to be ecstatic about; I started working part-time at a restaurant (a first for me) and haven’t yet gotten used to being on my feet all the time and having a work schedule that’s never the same from week to week; and after much relational turmoil, I am settling into the life of a single lady for the first time in about four years. It’s these transitional periods in my life that remind me how much I am a creature of habit, and that life changes of this magnitude take a great deal of time and concerted effort for me to adjust to. It’s something I’m constantly working on.
All of which is to say: I’m starting to find my rhythm and get comfortable in the chaos that is my life right now, and I plan to start up blogging regularly again, starting today. I’m working on redesigning my blog with one of my web designer homies and I’m really excited to unveil it (hopefully) soon! Thanks for your patience, friends, and for your continued readership.
Last weekend, my brother Judson came up to Seattle to visit me and climb Mt. Si with me (cross it off the list), and boy, was it a time. We woke up at 6:00am on Sunday morning and trekked an hour out to North Bend (after consuming a couple McDonalds breakfast sandwiches, of course), where we found ourselves at the foot of a mountain of imposing height. It was cold and misty so we started out the hike with our coats on, but as we slowly ascended the crazy-steep grade, we began shedding layers really quickly until both of us had our sweaters tied around our waists like goons and Judson had the pantlegs of his jeans rolled up (who wears jeans on a serious hike? Come on!).
It was a really arduous and intense hike, but when we reached the top, my brain was yelling “Worth it!”: there was a thick mist hovering over the rock ledges and even though I couldn’t see much through it, the altitude, and the feeling of power and disbelief at knowing how high you are above everything, was palpable, and we climbed over jagged rocks and crevices to stand up against what, from the outside, looked like the abyss, and it wasn’t scary. It was incredible. I’d definitely like to hike Mt. Si again in the summer, when it’s clear and you can see green for eons, but I’m glad that my first climb was through the mist. It was more timely and applicable to my present existence that way.
It took us about four hours roundtrip, and after waking up early, saying hi to every hiker and their dog on the trail (no complaints there!), feeling dizzy from the elevation change and getting our muscles wrecked by a mountain, we were exhausted and famished. So we returned to Seattle and ate some monster Elliott Bay subs, and all was right with the world.
So on Monday morning I was making myself a cup of coffee before work, as I do every morning, and right as I finished pouring boiling hot water into one of those plastic single-serve funnels that you set on top of your mug, it became unsteady and immediately tipped over onto my right hand. To make a long story short, I worked the whole day with a cold compress rubber-banded to my wrist (which, I’d like to point out, none of my co-workers noticed until about 2pm) before going to the urgent care, where I was bandaged up, diagnosed with a first-degree burn, and sent on my merry way with miles of gauze and some potent painkillers. I’ve been walking around all week with my wrist wrapped up like a mummy and many passersby have given me concerned looks, because what they surmise from my bandages is that I’ve attempted, and failed, to kill myself.
I feel pretty dumb when I have to explain to inquirers exactly how I became a “burn victim.” I am an object of pity, but I sense that most people pity my stupidity and clumsiness more than the fact that my flesh was scalded with boiling water and coffee grounds. I guess I can’t really blame them. Moral of the story: from this moment on, I am leaving my coffee preparation to the professionals.
NEWSFLASH: Kayaking is awesome. My outdoor adventure pal Bekah and I borrowed a friend’s oversized kayaks that didn’t quite fit into the back of her boyfriend’s sports utility vehicle, so I had to sit in between the kayaks and bear hug them with both arms to keep them from sliding out onto the road. It was kind of stressful, but it was also kind of exciting. We also had to enlist the help of some buff strangers to help us carry the kayaks down to the canal, for we are but weak females who need help with such things. BUT, once we got in the water, it was perfection. There’s always so much going on on Lake Washington, and yet it’s always so quiet and still. It was a great sanctuary to float among the lilies and soak up the sun and feel, for a moment, far away from the city. When we started paddling back toward land, we passed a boat full of twentysomethings who were blasting “My Way” by Limp Bizkit, completely unironically. There was fist-pumping and everything. We were horrified, but we had a good laugh about it. It seemed an appropriate way to end our afternoon on the lake.