My daughter could never sleep at night. (She was like her father. Me, I could always sleep.) When she was young, I’d go in to say good night, and she’d pepper me with interesting questions to make me stay and keep her company so she would not have to be left alone and bored, in the dark no less. Being a full time working mother at the time, I was exhausted. To assuage my guilt at needing to get some rest myself, I tried to think up ways to help her occupy her mind while she was waiting for sleep to come. I told her to track the associations in her thoughts and see where they led. If she started with Teddy Bear, what did that make her think of?
“Forest,” she said.
“Okay,” I replied. “What does a forest make you think of?”
And so it went. The brain at work. We, too, might goof around. If the task is one association per person, where do you go from artichoke? Need I add…surprise us?