This may be Summer of Love week 1, but we’re starting back at 0.
The 0th law of thermodynamics. Wait. Wait! DON’T STOP READING.
It’s not painful. I promise. We’re just going to talk about physics for a feeeeeewwww sentences.
Here’s what you need to know about thermodynamics: there’s a 1st law, and a 2nd law, followed, unsurprisingly, by a 3rd law. Here’s where there is a surprise, here’s where it is interesting, here’s where it is interesting to us—there is also a 0th law.
The 0th law of thermodynamics sets the stage for the rest. It tells us the conditions we have to have in order to begin.
That’s it. That’s all the physics for today. See? Not painful at all.
The same is true for us. We have a 0th law. A rule that sets the stage for all the rest. The conditions that need to be true before we begin.
That is the 0th law. We belong.
Our 0th law is a rule we often skip. We begin each day leap frogging right over it—when the alarm goes off or a child calls out or a dog barks us awake, our jarred brains go straight over 0 to 1, 2, and 3. Who needs to go where today? When will the errands get done? What are the tasks at work to be finished? By the time we resignedly roll out of bed, our brain is already going. And we’ve forgotten to stop for a moment and be. Be in our belonging.
Our 0th law is a rule we often forget to mention. With our kids, with our partners, with ourcolleaguesourfriendsourneighbors, with ourselves. We belong. We belong to ourselves, we belong to each other. We can’t rush everyone out the door or help a kiddo with reading or expect people to pitch in or accomplish much ourselves if we don’t start with zero.
Our 0th law is a rule that often wasn’t taught to us. We belong. It isn’t conditional. It isn’t about expectations or behaviors or performance. It doesn’t matter what our origin story is–no matter how we arrived in this family, this community, this organization. We belong. It’s knowing our place here is secured for always. Forever. Just for who we are. It’s hard to remember that sometimes. It’s hard to remember that over a lifetime.
What more could a child want to hear? What more could we?
And thus, it is our 0th law.
But showing this law? Teaching it? Believing it? That feels big. Huge. Maybe enormously overwhelming. How do we assure them that no matter how embarrassing or exhausting or befuddling or delighting they are to us, they belong? How do we convey that no matter what choices they make, they belong? How do we show them, every single day, especially on the days when they aren’t feeling accomplished or awarded or accoladed, that they belong?
And how do we remind ourselves?
As Toni Morrison said “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk into the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that.”
So whisper it as you tuck them in. Sticky note it to the fridge. Say it to a co-worker as you walk into a difficult meeting. Know it within yourself as you stand brushing your teeth. We belong.
Life is lonely without the 0th law, no matter how many people surround you. Because without it, we worry that affection, love, attention will all vanish when we make a mistake. And we will make mistakes. It’s something we all do.
When we know we belong, we relax at a cellular level. We grow into who we truly are.
So this first week of the summer of love let’s linger on the 0th law. Let’s find little ways each and every day to be with one another, as we long to be. Because we belong*.
* Here’s the theme song for the week. Have a dance party to it in the kitchen. Sing it at the top of your lungs in the car. Invite your friends to join us. Because we belong. We belong together.
p.p.s. Have friends you know will love Summer of Love? click right here to get all signed up. Love the Love.