Association

  • Chaos theory
  • Self-Similarity
  • Snow Flakes
  • Randomness
  • Mandalas
  • Adult Coloring Books
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

What are things that could have been the topic of this blog post?

If you were to do more than take a cursory glance at that list, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see that a pattern exists. Said pattern can be explained by a simple exercise in word association, which, at its core, is little more than the derivation of an immediate response to a stimuli. For example, what word comes to mind when you think of the term soft? This can be part of a game to pass the time, a creative technique used to overcome writer’s block, or even an element of some psychological or pseudo-psychological evaluation. While the pattern can be accounted for by word association, association is not always quite so mundane.

Association is just another way of saying relationship or attachment or affiliation. So does who we choose to associate ourselves with and what we choose to associate our time with matter? Absolutely, but who or what determines those things? The simple answer is that we choose who we spend our time with and how that time is spent, but that’s not necessarily true.

Who was your first friend? Your first best friend? Was that friendship one of convenience? Mine was. My first best friend lived three tenths of a mile down the road from the home I was raised in – the only house I lived in before going off to college. We played together all the time, got into trouble together, even hurt one another (both physically and emotionally). Then one day he moved to a new town. My best friend was yanked away from me just a few years shy of age ten, but I made new friends. Again, many of those friends were friends of convenience.

Do you remember the first time you chose to be friends with someone? Maybe they weren’t from your neighborhood or they went to a different school than you or they lived a different life from you. As we grow older, we have the option to either adopt friends who are comfortable and familiar or venture into new territory. You see, I have this theory that we tend to pick friends who are either like us or people we desire to be more like. This generally leads to a narrow worldview where we’re safe and protected from much of the world outside our immediate circle of influence. That’s not altogether wrong, but we must recognize its limits.

Studies of nature versus nurture tend to show something resembling a 50/50 split across the board. Those numbers may vary and swing on occasion but hold true for the most part. So when people, parents in particular, begin saying that their loved one started running with the wrong crowd, I may have to disagree. Are they running with the wrong crowd, or are they a part of it? There is a difference between growing up in a culture which propagates systemic delinquency and joining a segment of society because that’s where it’s easiest to get your fix.

Alcoholics hang out in bars. Addicts and junkies tend to hang out wherever other people are using. Gamblers spend their time in the casino, at the track or on the phone with their bookie. Sex addicts hang out in houses of ill-repute and alone on their computers in dark, quiet corners. Yes, these are vast overgeneralizations, but you get my drift. Often, how we choose to spend our time is a primary indicator of where and with whom we’re going to spend our time. And I think that on some level we have to realize and understand that who we associate ourselves with and how we associate our time are tell-tale signs of where our priorities lie.

Ask yourself these questions. Where do I spend my time? With whom am I spending that time? And perhaps most important of all, how do I spend my money?

If you don’t like the answers, change them.

– Alex Walker

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