I am a member and frequent visitor at a Theravada Buddhist message board. There, they have an ongoing thread called the "word association game." I often post on that thread. It is a fun game. One person started the thread with one word and the next person posts the first word that comes to mind. It then goes on like that until we all get sick of it. I am guessing that is the extent of the game anyway. I can't imagine that there is another goal. A while ago, I was posting on there and the previous word was "synergy." I looked and the word before that was "energy." I am sure that I had probably heard the word "synergy" before, but when I saw it on the message board, I could only really think of the first time I learned what it meant. I was in college and a guy who was on the track team had the word written really large on the back of his shirt. Somebody (it may have been myself) asked him what it meant/why it was on his shirt. The word was kind of a theme for his High School cross country team. Apparently, they wanted to run with synergy- all the parts of the whole working together towards the same goal. Now, I always thought that this guy was from Salem, IL. I am not sure if that is right, but it seems like it is correct. I remember that when I was in High School, Salem always had the best cross country team and they always had nifty themes and such for the team...we were all secretly jealous.
So, back to the word-association-game. When I saw the word, "synergy," naturally I thought of this runner and his shirt. However, instead of using the word "running" or "team" or anything of those things, I chose the word "crucible." I chose that word because of it's association with the name, Salem. The interesting thing about this for me is the fact that I went through so many different steps to arrive at the conclusion so quickly. I think that naturally, I would have chosen words like "running" or "team." However, I skipped right over those and went to something else instead. What kind of association was I drawing? The answer to that question is an interesting one I think. "What does it mean to make any association at all?"