The Zero And The One

All artwork by Leenna Naidoo

Warning: Things get a little bit philosophical today in what can be a writing prompt, a talking point, or a reflection point—whatever you need it to be…

If you’re of a certain age, you’ve probably had a Disparaging SomeOne at school, intending to hurt, call you a Zero—the opposite of hero; the equivalent of zilch, nothing, nada…Because at school, as in most places in society, we’re meant to revere and be ambitious to occupy the place of Number One.

As a word, a concept, a label, I was always ambivalent to Zero, 0…until I read Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao by Diane Morgan. I was still very green at Tarot, and knew next to nothing of Taoist philosophy (still don’t). You could say I was The Fool, which is numbered 0 in most decks.

This book was a revelation. Zero, 0, The Egg, held all of Potential. Advance from Zero to One, 1, and you lose potential. Potential is important, but you can’t live in or on it alone (you gotta eat, right?), but being a One, or Number 1, constantly isn’t much fun nor viable either. Why? Because:

Never mind the math (I’m not very good at it) but look at the concept. Look at the dimensions!
Zero is multi-dimensional in possible movement (all that potential again), and One is (wait for it, here comes the pun!) one dimensional—two at most: Up or Down. And with one, you’re striving for one dimension only: Up.
Then there’s this: Twist a zero in the middle and you have Eight or Infinity. Twist a one in the middle and you have a 1 with an obstruction in the middle…Confusion, restriction?

So, could it be that Ones, the Number One, misses all those other potentials, all those other dimensions by being constantly fixed on moving Up.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re saying: ascension is good. And you’ve gotta eat, so why not eat well?

True, true. But what about potential? What about reinvention? What about recomputing? What about resting? What about simply dreaming a new reality? Can Ones with their one-dimensional focus really imagine all there is to imagine, conceive more than there currently is to conceive, solve in more than one manner, think in more than one way, process at more than one speed, learn more than they currently do, love in more than one way…

I’m thinking being a One, being Number One, is exhausting for all the wrong reasons.

So, can’t consistently be a Zero (gotta eat). Can’t consistently be a One (too rigid and all that focus on moving Up).
What to do? Work together and find a balance? Or switch from One to the Other: 0 to 1, 1 to 0 in the way that computers work: dropping into rest, into potential. Achieving something. Repeating the cycle. Avoiding stasis, stagnation. Exploring more than one dimension…

I invite you to consider The Zero And The One.
Play with them, and see what they can add up too…or subtract from your story.

And a big shout-out to everyone who’s ever been a called a Zero. You rock, never mind the ones that ruled!


Leenna Naidoo

Leenna writes cross-genre suspense, romance, and dabbles in sci-fi/fantasy. She also reads the tarot.  When not writing, she often tries her hand at anything vaguely artistic, including her new passion—frankenstitching bags and purses—and developing her own oracle cards.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.