Almost ten years ago, I got to spend time with an old acquaintance-Rabbi Rami Shapiro. He came to Calgary under the auspices of the Temple B’nai Tikvah and the Anglican Parish of Christ Church. Rami is a bright light on my screen, and I hadn’t seen him for 20 years. I was delighted.
I signed up to attend his one-day workshop on the Sacred Art of Loving Kindness: an interfaith exploration of compassion. And what a rollicking day it was. Not only were we inspired, enlightened, educated and entertained, our immune systems got boosted with all the laughing. Quite frankly, Rami is provocative, irreverent and for me, a delight. A joyful mix of intelligence, wisdom, open mindedness, truthfulness, and absolute compassion for the human condition.
I learned something that day, which has stuck with me after all these years, and, recently, it is back in my thoughts. It is the idea of being a “trim-tab.” Rami had studied with Buckminster Fuller and had learned about trim tabs from him. In fact, when Fuller died his epitaph read, Bucky: TRIM TAB.
I had not heard of it, but this is what I discovered:
“A trim tab is the tiny, trailing part of a ship’s rudder. Slight pressure on the trim tab moves the rudder, which in turn directs the ship. We are all trim tabs, tiny pivots affecting the overall direction of humanity. As Fuller advised, it is time to take a long view. Zoom out, look at where we’ve been and where we might be going. See it? Now choose your path and act accordingly.”
Fuller declared, “you don’t have to turn the weight of civilization, but you can be a trim tab and be part of the turning.”
In this era of discouraging world news and a sense of futility, what we do and say counts, within our circles of influence. Our ordinary days of living are filled with opportunities to influence the lives of another. It doesn’t matter if it is at the grocery store, the ballot box or in the chemo chair. The second we are interacting with another we are “trim tabs.” For better or for worse.
We may not be able to change the world or get our names on the front page of The New York Times for our good works, but we can be Trim Tabs right now and right where we are, under all circumstances.
We get to influence the quality of our own lives and our community everyday, with small actions. As Fuller stated, “What you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count.”
Note 1: Enjoy this last full week of October. See you next week.
Note 2: Thanks for taking the time to read my scribbling’s and thank-you for your encouraging words.