I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.

Dummies, Forklifts, and the Meaning of Life

My life is filled with Non Sequiturs.

For those who don’t know what that is, it means, literally, “it does not follow.”  It’s when a random statement is thrown into a discussion and has nothing to do with what has been said before.

Hannah used to do this on a regular basis.  On our way to the grocery store, we would drive past an antique dealer who often had a mannequin in front of his shop dressed in crazy outfits.  When Hannah was about three years old and able to string sentences together quite nicely, she would talk almost non-stop.  On car rides she would talk about her plans for the day or make up stories to tell us.  Often it would sound like this,

… and then I’m going to play hopscotch, and then I’m going to eat watermelon, and then I’m going to — the dummy’s out — ride my bike, and then I’m going to color a picture…

And so on…  See how “the dummy’s out” doesn’t really fit?  In her little brain, though, it did.

It’s sort of like the time Hannah and I were talking about our cat dying.  Trinity’s death is a popular topic of conversation at our house.  She’s probably around 13 years old.  She has good days and bad days. One day Hannah and I were talking about Trinity while Deirdre was cooking something in the kitchen.

While carrying on the dying cat discussion, I got up to help Deirdre.  Deirdre asked me, “Did you set the timer?”

Hannah looked shocked. “You mean she’s going to die at a certain time?”

In the context of Hannah’s and my conversation, the timer question was a Non Sequitur, but, inserted into the discussion, it led to some laughs.

Yesterday, however, Deirdre and I were having a heavy discussion.  It was about the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life.

“Nothing matters,” she said. “We’re all just a bunch of selfish people trying to pretend that we aren’t.”

“Are you saying that I’m selfish?” I asked her.

“You may not think you’re being selfish,” she said, “but, really, everything we do comes from selfishness.  It’s all stupid.”

“I really disagree with you,” I told her.

“You don’t know, Mom,” she said. “You think you know, but, in this, I really think I know more than you.  I’ve been to more counselors and talked to more people about this stuff.”

“Deirdre, I’m 53.  You’re 21.  You really think you know more about life than I do?” I was incredulous.

“In this case, yes,” she said decidedly.

Suddenly I felt exhausted.  I felt as though I had been hit with a forklift. “I’m so tired,” I said, non-sequitur-ly.

Angrily, Deirdre stalked out of the room.  When she came back, she said, “I’m trying to talk with you about important stuff and you just say that you’re tired.  What’s up with that?”

I had no answer.

“Would you like a brownie?” I asked.

a Non Sequitur picture for a Non Sequitur post

a Non Sequitur picture for a Non Sequitur post



9 comments on “Dummies, Forklifts, and the Meaning of Life

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  6. Nerdy Woman
    September 23, 2013

    I love it. And as for talking with counselors and concluding it’s all about self? Well, yeah. You sit for an hour and talk about nothing but you. And I’d love a brownie.

    Thank you for sharing this today.

    • sarahlangdon
      September 23, 2013

      You’re right — and I can’t believe that I never made the connection, about how with counselors all you really do talk about is yourself. It makes what Deirdre said make so much more sense.

      Oh, and I’m so sorry — the last brownie disappeared about an hour ago.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  8. Annana
    September 24, 2013

    Me too, about the brownie. Also loved the picture, and I think I would like your daughter too. (But not eating her, like the brownie.)

    But in all seriousness this sounds like conversations that have taken place at our house. My poor mother has probably dealt with a few phrases and comments right along the alley of Deirdre’s too.

    Thanks for writing. I always enjoy your posts.

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2013 by in Family conversation and tagged , , , , , .

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