I had an appointment for lunch with my father, so I biked to his office. I arrived early and my sister, who is an employee of the company, was there.
—“How are your projects going, Mark?” she asked.
—“Good, the course is flowing great, without effort”.
—“I think I’ve told you about it like three times by now”
—“Oh I’m sorry, I do not remember”
—“You do not remember because you are not interested. That is fine, we do not have to make small talk about it. It is not a good topic for small talk anyways.”
She made several faces in succession, like not knowing what to answer. Finally she said:
—“Fine then, I wont make an effort towards making conversation. It’s your turn”.
—“You’re right, sorry for being so harsh, but I don’t like speaking about my projects with people who have no interest in them. So how was [your son’s] recital at school?
—“It was good”
—“What did [your son] do? Did he sing, did he dance, did he act?”
—“Oh, it was…”
And so the small talk centered around the event of her son. We had a longish conversation about it. After lunch with my father I biked home, I thought: will I forget about the conversation with my sister in two weeks? Yes, absolutely. Is her son the most important thing to her in the world? Yes, absolutely. Then, perhaps, I give too much importance to my projects. Or perhaps, better stated, I give myself too much importance. Projects as small talk is fine, but silence remains golden.