Timshel

Allison Douma


April 21, 2016

About 8 months ago, my parents dropped me off at the airport in San Francisco to begin this journey. Saying goodbye my parents obviously wasn’t easy, but knowing that I would be seeing them in 8 months again helped make it less sad. I knew that I was saying “see you later” rather than “goodbye” and that was a great comfort. I was also setting off on a new adventure. There was a lot of excitement and newness and a lot of questions about what was going to happen this year. Where was I going to be placed? Where would I be working? How many siblings would I have? The questions kept coming and it seemed like my list of questions would never end.

 Now, lets fast forward 8 months to leaving my host family and community. This time around I realized that I really don’t know what is going to happen next. I don’t know exactly when I will see these people that have affected my life immensely again. Now I have a new set of questions. How often will I talk to my family and friends? Will I be able to return? Will I remember what I learned here? Has this experience really changed me? How will this experience affect the rest of my life? What is going to happen?

Throughout this year I have had a lot of time to read for fun. Something that has been lacking in my life the past few years. I got to read John Stienbeck’s East of Eden, which talks about the hebrew word “Timshel”which translates to “thou mayest”. It goes on to explain how the ability to choose is what makes humans, human. In any given situation we are in we have the ability to choose how we react, or how we let something affect us. This is the exact privilege that I get to bring to this situation. I get to choose how this experience shapes me as a person. I can remember all the lessons I have learned and try to implement them into my daily life at home or I could forget. It is up to me and no one else how I answer these remaining question is up to me. I am in control of what happens next. So, now whenever I get worried about what is going to happen next in my life all I have to remember is timshel. 

Allison Douma