In his novel, East of Eden, John Steinbeck wrote: “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’.” This may be the only time you find an Irishman citing Hebrew. I don’t know. But I do know the wisdom and the existential accuracy of that word: timshel.
For all we know, this time, this era of the coronavirus pandemic, may come to be known as The Age of Timshel. There’s no way to be certain of that, either. But we can be certain — we must be certain — that what we make of this time, what we choose to do with and during this time, is ours to determine. Along with self-faith, imagination, resourcefulness, and creativity, and what we mayest not is a matter of perspective.