Many children enjoy making paper airplanes (I know I did as a child), and the challenge to crafting the perfect plane is in the strategic folds placed along the wings. Small as they may be, these little folds help determine the lift and the stability of the plane. These small, adjustable pleats are called trim tabs, and they replicate the adjustable surfaces on the wings and tails on full scale aircraft.
If you have ever had a window seat located over the wing of an airplane, you may have observed trim tabs in action. At the very edges of each wing are mini-flaps which are constantly making very small movements. These extremely small adjustments make all the difference in the world to ensuring that a journey from point A to point B is smooth and enjoyable.
Trim tabs are also extremely helpful to the pilot, for if used correctly, trim tabs allow the pilot to significantly reduce the manual force needed to maintain the desired position of the craft. Just imagine the amount of force it would take if the entire wing or the entire tail of the airplane had to be moved every time the plane needed to be stabilized. Thus, these very small adjustments to the trim tabs enable pilots to conserve energy and resources as they strive to keep the plane on course.
So, too, it is in our lives as the simplest and smallest adjustments can make all the difference in the world in how we strive to navigate a path to a desired behavioral outcome. Whether it is in regards to our habits or our attitudes, our intentions or our behaviors, it is much easier (and far more effective for us) to manage small and almost imperceptible changes than it is to make major corrections.
This holy and awesome season invites us to consider the trim tabs of our lives. The High Holy Days summon us to make adjustments to the ways in which we act, think, speak and engage the world around us. During this sacred time, we are not expected to completely re-invent ourselves, but rather we are commanded to address our misguided decisions, interactions or intentions through earnest adjustments in our relationships with ourselves, with others and with God.
May the forthcoming season provide all of us with an opportunity to make all the adjustments we need so that the year ahead will be free from turbulence. Shanah Tovah!