It is a Hindu wedding tradition for the couple to make seven vows to each other, each involving a certain aspect of the relationship, like strength, health, prosperity, and so on. To cement these vows and their commitment to one another, the couple makes seven circles around a sacred flame.
Why seven? A circle has 360 degrees, and seven is the only single-digit number by which 360 cannot be divided. Therefore, making seven promises should ensure that nothing can divide the couple either.
When we look at our relationships with the people we love as circles, they become more integrated. An indivisible whole instead of a web of loose and not-so-loose links. As a result, we will feel more integrated too. More engaged, and more likely to become more involved. We’ll think less in tit-for-tat transactions and more along the lines of “What meaning do we add to each other’s lives?”
That meaning does not need to be big to be significant. A childhood friend you only see once a year can provide more joy than a so-so colleague you see every day but whom you’ve mostly befriended to make work go more smoothly. Similarly, we needn’t show up every day for everyone. We can do it for a special few, but for others, we too can be that once-a-year-friend who nonetheless adds a lot of happiness.
At a wedding I recently attended, the couple also performed the saat phera tradition. The sacred flame was a candle on a tiny table, and the circles they walked were small, taking only a few steps each. That’s the thing about circles: They needn’t be big to be indivisible. Regardless of their size, the mathematical rules of 360 and seven still hold up.
Outside of your innermost circle (pun intended), don’t rank your relationships in some long list. Make them undividable, and consider each forever perpetuating loop on its own merits. See your life as a bigger whole, a circle of circles, and then be deliberate in who you invite into your spherical world.