I spend a lot of time with my grandchildren and I love it. I also spend a lot of time in my garden or walking on my beautiful mountain top. All of these things get me thinking.
I find myself regularly returning to Viktor Frankl’s idea of “Life Circle”. He said that how well we (ful-)fill our specific “life circle”, determines our meaning and purpose.
It occurred to me that my "life circle" is a lot smaller in reach than when I was Assistant Principal of a prestigious high school of 1000 kids. Back then, it was always easy for me to be mindful of the significance and meaning of my (life’s) work because of the reach, scope and consequences for the unfolding lives in my charge. I was always grateful for having such noble and profound work. I loved it. Although the stress of it often got to me, and as much as I knew success, I always harboured doubts about my efficacy, regardless of the affirmations.
As a “hands on” grandpa of two very young boys, my life circle is a lot smaller, but as I have come to realise, no less significant. Frankl says what matters is how well we fulfil our specific circle, rather than the greatness of the radius of our actions. This is what gives meaning to our existence.
Before my consultancy with school staffs came to an end with the COVID shutdown and isolation, I regularly began by half-jokingly saying that my life working in schools with thousands of kids was prefect preparation for being a grandpa. I think Frankl’s idea of Life Circle and its affect on meaning and significance, has clarified this for me.
Being an Assistant Principal and spending much of my life working with thousands of kids, really was the right preparation for being a grandpa. Formation involves different approaches in the ongoing journey of discerning what life is calling each of us to as we grow and evolve.
How's your "life circle"? One silver lining of the present moment, is the opportunity to review, reflect and discern what your life is calling you to fulfil.
Dr Michael Downey is an Author, Teacher, Consultant, Retreat Leader & Workshop Facilitator. ,