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The temperature on my phone’s weather app reads zero degrees (F) – a large oval sphere with a small circle outside its upper right corner. The sun outside is puzzlingly brilliant until I notice the telltale sparkling of ice on the upper branches of the trees. Only the most intrepid and well-dressed adventurers would welcome a hike on a morning like this. “But it is so beautiful,” my inner voice says. I know that to be true, but know as well the dangers of too much cold. Wise people need to be prepared on days like this.

As I look at the zero, I begin to muse about more meanings of the word. Is there no weather advice in a zero? Does it mean there is no warmth and no cold but rather stasis? (i.e. the state of equilibrium or inactivity caused by opposing equal forces) It does seem very quiet outside – no cars, no voices, no movement of the trees – just…zero. I am also in a period of semi-stasis. Nothing is moving as I sit in this chair except my fingers as they move across the keyboard of my computer. Everything in my bedroom is at a point of zero when considered in this way. Nothing moves. I know, however that as my prayer plant sits in a stance of reaching out toward me and appears frozen in that position, there is consistent growth going on under the surface. And I know the same to be true in the stillness of my body as I feel breath moving in and out of me.

Thus I begin to shift the lens to see zero more as equality rather than nothingness. I am no more or no less – on the inside – than anyone else I might encounter. Warm and cold might be seen as relative terms from the perspective of an Inuit and a resident of Southern California. Perhaps we ought to think more of moving toward zero in all of our judgments, especially about people. Hmmm…