Day 904: Free Associations

Did you know that some  psychological tests ask people to make free associations with pictures?

What associations do you have with this photo, which I took early yesterday morning?

What thoughts and/or feelings do you have  when you look at that image?

Here’s my first association, when I look at that:

Don’t drop the ball.

I wonder how a psychologist might interpret that first reaction from me?

Wait! I’m not a psychologist, but I am a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW), which means I’m a legit psychotherapist. Therefore, I could interpret my own interpretation  — that is, explore what’s going on in my life to explain why

Don’t drop the ball

… immediately popped into my head when I saw that yesterday.  However, I’d rather just riff on the meaning of “Don’t drop the ball.”

To me,

Don’t drop the ball

… means “take your responsibility for getting things done. ”

Here’s my free association with that thought: Why would dropping a ball be so terrible? If I do drop a ball, I could always just pick it up again.

Yesterday, I probably did drop a ball or two. We all do, because we’re imperfect human beings. However, I also did my best to pick those balls up again.

Here’s my current free association, as I’m writing this: I wonder if anybody is smiling at my use of the word “balls”?

Speaking of smiling, soon after I took my first  photo of the day yesterday (see above), I took this one:

Here’s my free association with that photo: soon after I took it,  I dropped the ball of my concentration as I was walking, tripped, and fell to the ground.

What’s your free association about tripping and falling in public?

Yesterday, I tried to fall as well as possible, and then I tried to let go of any sense of shame about falling. I sat there on the ground for a moment, realizing I most likely had not hurt myself (even though I take a blood thinner and recently had surgery).

A construction worker (not pictured in this post) walked by me and we had this exchange, while I was  sitting on the ground:

Construction worker: Are you all right?
Me: I’m okay. That was pretty impressive, wasn’t it?
Construction worker: I actually didn’t see it. I thought you might just be sitting here. But I did hear the noise.

(As I’m telling you this story, I’m free associating about what noise he might have heard. I know it wasn’t my voice — I don’t cry out when I drop anything, including myself.)

Then, the nice construction worker helped me up, as I made some comment about falling.

Construction worker: It happens.
Me: I know.

Soon after that, I free associated as to why  I might have tripped,  fallen, and dropped to the ground for the very first time in all my walks to work — through rain, snow, sleet, and sun  — for almost four years. I free associated the fall with my brand new shoes:

I also free associated by taking two photos of the one place on myself that had dropped most heavily on the ground, my right hand:

I wondered if that would bruise by the end of the day, because I’m taking Xarelto.

Then, I free-associated the rest of the day, regarding

Dropping and picking up the ball (and other things)

… and I freely picked up these photos, so I could drop them on you today:



Here are my current free associations with those photos:

  1. The sunglasses are something my friend Jan found and picked up on a street in Maine, this past weekend, and
  2. That last photo demonstrates that I did not bruise, at all, from my morning drop to the ground.

What music might I free associate with, about balls dropping or anything else I dropped in this post?

This tune just dropped into my head:

I just dropped “Cloudy” by Simon & Garfunkel on you, here and now.

Freely associate about anything you choose, in the comments below.

Free-association thanks to all those who helped me drop this post and thanks to you — of course! — for dropping by, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

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41 thoughts on “Day 904: Free Associations

  1. I took Xarelto for a year or so after experiencing pulmonary embolisms. Oddly, I found that I actually bruised less while taking it. 🙂 I have always been someone who bruises hugely.There was only one oddity for me while taking Xarelto – I did find that mosquito bites went an odd purple shade and that had never happened to me before.

    Interestingly I have noticed that I bruise less even now, and I have been not taking the drug for some time, almost a year. I had a huge fall a couple of weeks ago which should have resulted in some seriously evil bruises and they never did appear.

    I think this is my first time leaving a comment, so this is also me saying hi, I found your blog earlier this month via MarkBialczak, and I am reading your posts via my feed reader.. 🙂

    • Here are my associations with your comment: I’m so glad you found me through Mark and that you commented today. This information was very helpful for me!

  2. It took me a moment to realize that in the first picture all those hands were reaching for a ball that was falling toward them, perhaps a home run, or maybe just a foul. At first I saw the ball suspended, and I imagined all those people clambering up to reach it. And I associated that with astronomy which I love because it keeps me looking up.

    Then the other pictures and your fall made me think of the importance of looking down, especially now that I’m taking two blood pressure medications that can cause dizziness. And you can only find cool sunglasses when you’re looking down.

    And I’m still smiling about the word “balls”. Having dealt with testicular cancer I think the associations I have with that word will always make me smile.

    • I freely associate insight, love, truth, and light with your comments, Christopher. Many thanks for being here.

  3. I free associated ‘joy’! Maybe that’s because I just finished reposting A Dog’s Guide to Life in honour of Ellie the Wunder Pooch who passed away on this day a year ago! She brought me such joy and she loved to chase balls but always refused to drop them at my feet! 🙂

    • I associated joy and tears and love and faithful companions with this comment, Louise! I’m going to read your repost, now.

  4. The first photo, to me, said, “Up for grabs!” The second said, “Hanging by a thread.”
    I am sure I heard those words from the photos since that’s about how my life has been feeling recently. Neither is bad, but life is a bit unsettled these days. Change is a-comin’.
    Sorry for your fall. Once in four years is actually a pretty good record!

    • We do free associate according to what’s going on in our head, heart, and lives, Emilie. I am freely associating now that I’m always glad when you’re a-comin’ around here.

  5. My first thought about the free-associated picture was, Ann: Badly photo-shopped! Basketball added-in way out of scale as an afterthought. Then I wondered why the mural was there. Then back to why the photographer didn’t make it a really big ball instead if he was going to change the perspective.

    I free associated about your fall worry about you being hurt. Then when you said you were OK, I thought about how I have tumbled while walking along in my life, and how I try to roll gracefully. And then I went to how I started to fall less after I started taking Pilates classes to strengthen my core and increase my balance. (And grace, apparently.) Then I wondered if I am going to start falling again because I’ve stopped Pilates.

    See what you’ve done, Ann?!

    • Here are my free associations with this comment, Mark: Basketball?!!?? What? Doesn’t he know that’s a baseball? Mark is such a caring person; that touches me so. He’s also very wise. I hope he starts taking Pilates again and POSTS LOTS OF PICTURES OF THAT. Oh! It’s Tom Petty! How awesome!

      • Baseball? See how small it is in the picture, Ann? And I was wearing my reading glasses! I think my Pilates days are done, unfortunately, because my dear wife Karen and I no longer belong to the gym.

  6. I free associated exhilaration and hope when I first looked at the 1st photo- I love it. The second photo made my stomach flip as I don’t like heights, I quickly scrolled ahead.I am very glad you did not hurt yourself,- my free association with falling in public brings back an unpleasant time in my life 2 years ago when I tripped over someone’s foot in Whole Foods, and broke my elbow. I can only tell you I now walk looking at the ground ahead of me, and take purposeful steps. I am so glad you are ok

    • Interesting, varied, and kind associations, Lovely Lisa, as usual. I don’t like heights either, but I don’t mind seeing them WHEN I’M ON THE GROUND. My association with your fall: I tripped and fell years ago and fractured my knee cap (without knowing it for days). Like you, that’s made me more careful where and how I step.

      • I would guess it was the new sneakers, sometimes the rubber catches on the ground and trips us up. Heights are good while one is planted firmly on the ground, preferably standing 🙂 walk on my friend

      • Sometimes, where the rubber meets the road can trip us up, Lisa. I’m so glad you tripped on back here for another comment!

  7. Picture number one took me back to volleyball at school; number two: I wish I’d taken it: your fall reminded me of one of mine some years ago. Carrying full shopping bags, I had tripped up a steep kerb. I was perfectly OK until a young man decided to help me up. He almost yanked my arm out of joint.

  8. The first picture makes me think of a goal that I’m trying to reach, but it just seems so distant, yet the goal (or ball) seems to be coming towards me as I stretch my hand trying to catch it; yet it’s distant. That image gives me a bit of anxiety, because the reaching towards the ball gets to be tiring. Wait a minute, it IS supposed to be like that! With free association you have to let your mind wander without any inhibitions.

    How much fun Ann!

  9. I like the shadow picture!

  10. Love this free association Ann!
    The first photo – “Here it comes… reach for it 😄”
    The second photo – “I wonder if they can hear each other and are able to talk.”
    Tripping and falling in public – Getting up with a smile and saying out loud “I’m okay”. I actually do this quite a lot .. especially going up stairs and when I’m wearing new shoes….
    That was fun 🙂

  11. I mostly free-associate with your new shoes. I have the same pair. I worry about the mesh top..I have burst through before with a toe nail that points slightly up on my left foot. It is the only spot that ever wears out on my running/walking shoes, which is why I always prefer leather. But these are so light…love them, and the colors. ☺

  12. The first photo made me think of happy children just playing ball. I didn’t think about whether they would catch it or not, just that they were having fun. Your tripping and falling like that was odd, as you say it’s unusual for you to fall. Perhaps it was the shoes. Whatever it was, I’m glad you weren’t hurt.
    I’ll be spending tomorrow trying out “free association” on everything I see after reading this. Lovely post, Anne. Hope you’re feeling OK after your fall, anyway.


    Descending I see
    A ball of seed thrown by the ethers
    To perhaps strike inertia
    Replacing hands with lofty feathers

    That onto the stadium waved and cheered
    “This ball that’s coming is mine”
    The meteor that with stardust smeared
    And sprinkled the homerun’s line

    A lifetime to define,
    A forceful hitting bent
    The fence of defense
    And traced the hit to landing’s end

    Which dent the ground
    And became a record footprint
    For whereabouts found
    A baseball only hinted

    • I love what you did with this image, Maria, and the poem is wonderful! I am honored by how you transformed this. Many thanks.

      • Thanks to you Ann for encouraging free association through images. I loved this image and wrote the poem, trying to give the baseball another perspective other than its role in the sport. This why I end the poem saying “For whereabouts found, a baseball only hinted”, which means that even when there’s a home run, the baseball is only an object that humans have manipulated in order to either enjoy, compete, or reach personal goals. Where does the ball land when it’s a home run is really of no consequence, at least in the poem.

      • Thank you, Maria!

  14. The first makes me think of reaching for the stars.

  15. UM bumper sticker is intriguing…

  16. Bob

    Missed this one. Responding before reading: The children’s hands in the air poster they have for Unicef or some other charity but the ball thing seems like an negative of a sun that they are reaching out to for warmth. The song “we are the world” started playing in my head then thoughts of how some behaviors are just barely kept contained and how quickly innocence is lost. Ok, the rest just connects to the stuff that has been bothering me today and I’m reminded of someone saying “you ascribe …” and denying that I do when I know that I thought something of the fact that two out of three new people I’ve corresponded with recently were born on the same calendar date as my stepson, the day before we were married, and how today is the day before something else and now that I need to stop, imagine all these thoughts on a whiteboard then wiping it clean, … I can hear the squeaks … why does this works so well? Why don’t I do it and the other things that work so well? Slate clean again.

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