The U'netaneh Tokef prayer says: On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed: Who shall live and who shall die, who shall perish by water and who by fire, who by famine and who by thirst . God's got it on His iPhone, of course.
Within the calendar that constitutes the Jewish cathedral in time, no days are more saturated with the experience of human nature, and with experiments in human change, than the Days of Awe. This is when we are asked, paradoxically, both to steep in our powerlessness to escape our species' fate, and yet also to try out behaviors that can rescue us from our destinies.
My earliest High Holiday memory goes back to about age 7. It was the night before Yom Kippur and my parents had gone off to the synagogue, leaving my 10-year-old brother and me with a babysitter. I forgot that I wasn't supposed to eat anything that night, went into the kitchen, got on a chair to get a banana from the top of the refrigerator, peeled it halfway down and put it into my mouth.
My brother shouted, "You can't do that!"