What makes you happy?

This is the theme of the book: “A Life of One’s Own” by Joanna Field (a.k.a Marion Milner). Written in the early 1900s.

Actually, I finished this book just this past summer. I found it at the Salvation Army store in Geneva, Switzerland which can be seen by Tram lines 12,16, and 17.

My favorite part of the book is actually a quote from an essay written by Virginia Woolf:

This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say….Really she is the strangest creature in the world, far from heroic, variable as a weathercock, ‘bashful, insolent; chaste, lustful; prating, silent; laborious, delicate; ingenious, heavy; melancholic, pleasant; lying, true; knowing, ignorant; liberal, covetous, and prodigal’ – in short, so complex, so indefinite, corresponding so little to the version which does duty for her in public, that a man might spend his life in merely trying to run her to earth.

Such words describe me so well. But enough about me…here are more sentences that caught my eye:

  • “I had often thought that novelists and poets had a special advantage in learning how to live, their writings providing them with an instrument that most of us were denied. By being able to dramatize their own difficulties they were in a far better position for solving them. But if one had no gift for creating imaginative truth, for symbolizing the stresses and strains of one’s own inner life in terms of sound and shape or invented happenings to others, was there no way of dealing with them?”
  • “Do you continually curtail your effort till there be nothing of it left?…By non-action there is nothing which cannot be effected.”(Lao-Tze)
  • “For the kind of thinking which went on when I was immersed in reverie, when myself and my thought were inextricably merged together, was liable to be so fantastic that it was incommunicable.”
  • “I was always wanting people to be either lovable or all hateful. When I was getting on well with someone everything they said was right and nothing was too good for them. Then, if some chance altered the emotional situation between us, they would become hateful to me, I would see all their weak points and fail to remember that they had ever had any good ones at all…look deliberately for the reverse side…widen my attention enough to view the irreconcilable opposite both together.”
  • “I had even got as far as resolving to read some books on sociology, when it suddenly dawned on me that that was not at all what I wanted: I wanted to know that woman as a person, a unique individual, not as specimen.”
  • “One is selfish because unwittingly indulges in a kind of thinking which cannot, by its very nature, recognize the realness of other people’s needs.”

…Those are some of the snippets. I folded many corners within this book. I will be selfish to keep it for myself.

Current read: “Celestina” by Fernando de Rojas.

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