The Free Association Scrambled Egg Solution!

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Meme by the author; Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

Dread going to work? Money problems keeping you awake at night? Turning to booze and junk food to ease the “barely there” knowledge of your own mortality? Here’s a fun exercise to tamp down the existential dread of daily life!


If you’re like me, some days your brain feels like scrambled eggs. Oddly colored, unappetizing—eggs run into cheese run into butter, each indiscernible from the next, and mushy.


If you’re like me, sometimes lists help. And not the get-organized, To Do kind of lists. My day is full of those, as I’m sure yours is, and they only seem to make my egg-brains more scrambled. That’s why free association lists are the best kind. Here is my list of words that, when I paused for a moment, I found swinging on the braches in my head:








Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash



Well, maybe that was cathartic enough in itself. Make your list, pat yourself on the back (go on, do it!), and turn on the TV (that seductive siren of sedating solace, O Holy, Soporific Sanctuary!)




Distract your brain by letting it chew on itself, like an anxious dog licking its own tail raw!


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Photo: Alphonse Mucha, 1902, Courtesy of the Dhawan Collection


INSPIRED – This seems like a weird word to be bopping around my brain chambers today. It’s such a hopeful, idealistic word. When did I last feel inspired? Maybe at an art museum recently, seeing IRL posters by Alphonse Mucha.

It inspired me to pine for a tattoo I can’t afford (anka.tattoo)

Feeling inspired is something I long for, something that, when I look right at it, I see is mostly missing from my daily life. The more I think about it, the more I feel like I don’t even know what the word means. To me it seems to imply action, production. Perhaps this is why this word was so quickly followed by…



HAUNTED – Again, I had no idea this word was on my mind. It feels like a counterpoint to Inspired. Routine, boredom, repetition, isolation, all rattling around this human body and mind that seem built to experience life and be inspired. I guess I can see how that might make one feel haunted.

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A deliciously histrionic Barry Dennen as Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

The list seems to degenerate from there into adjectives to describe my feelings about my job. Always good to be reminded that anxiety about my job isn’t just intruding on my unconscious every night in my dreams, but also in my subconscious waking mind, always right below the surface.

The Free Association Scrambled Egg Solution! Patent Pending.