Friday, 19 February 2010

A Life of One's Own

Marion Milner (1900-1998), was a British author and psychoanalyst, and a pioneer of introspective journaling. At the age of 26 she began to keep a diary, this was because it slowly became clear to her that, her life was not as it ought to be, although from external point of view it was going very well, since she was earning her living in interesting work, having a full leisure life and plenty of friends. The book ‘A Life of One’s Own’ grew out of this seven years diary and this amply exhibits what journaling and dairy writing do. Following are excerpts from this book which was first published in 1934.

“When I first began, at the end of each day, to go through what had happened and pick out what seemed best to me, I had quite unexpected results. Before I began this experiment, when I had drifted through life unquestioningly, I had measured my life in terms of circumstances. I had thought I was happy when I was having what was generally considered ‘a good time’. But when I began to try and balance up each day’s happiness I had found that there were certain moments which had a special quality of their own, a quality which seemed to be almost independent of what was going on around me, since they occurred sometimes on the most trivial occasions. They stood out because of a feeling of happiness which was far beyond what I had ordinarily meant by ‘enjoying myself’, and because of this they tended to oust all other concerns in my daily record.”

“By keeping a diary of what made me happy I had discovered that happiness came when I was most widely aware. So I had finally come to the conclusion that my task was to become more and more aware, more and more understanding with an understanding that was not at all the same thing as intellectual comprehension. I had come to realize that it was not, after all, a question of a life of consciousness as against a life of natural impulse; for without consciousness, for me at least, there was no freedom of natural expression, but only a clash of haphazardly acquired conventions and welter of opposing and misunderstood ideals. Without understanding I was at the mercy of blind habit; with understanding, I could develop my own rules for living and find out which of the conflicting exhortations of a changing civilization was appropriate to my needs.”


  1. hmm...great post Dar Sahib...

    Sometimes I wish...I wish that I have a contact with you....I mean a contact of such closeness that I can borrow the great books of which you always made notes here...hmm....

    I admire Sir your passion for reading and become so surprised about your reading/switching from one channel to other one subject to other...

    What is your key....? What you think while you pick a book? Is it random?

    For journaling...I think we all keep one but I never thought of taking out such experiment from my journaling....

    Though...I always try to remark on so many things which can be easily avoidable by us. They are there in your normal life but you never keep any record of it....hmmm...

    Thank you so mcuh for sharing....Sir.

  2. How lovely to here listen to great minds and souls speaking with one another! :) This post and Thinking's response is also such a beautiful and needed reminder of the value of journaling which I have made an expendable value in my life and now want to once more place as essential thanx to both of you!

    Sir Educator of Soul and Spirit, I too wonder how you switch from one channel to the next apparently when you read? Yet what I am learning about you so far leads me to suppose you have your ways and patterns and they have a consistency about them, no? Are they your secrets?

  3. Thinking
    thanks for your pofound comment. As far as my reading is concerned I try to read by a system that is my own. The key is I love reading, and more reading!

    You are close enough to ask for any book I have:)

    You are a mystic and a poet and I cannot deny that there isn’t a pattern.

  4. hmm...thank you so much Dar Sahib....

    For giving me such honor....I once read somewhere that "lend only those books which you dont want to read...."

    because most of the time people dont return....

    thanks !

  5. Remarkable,
    how dedicated we are capable of being,
    To write a diary for 7 years, wow!

    Thank you for sharing,
    so new wonders we learn of each day
    that hold it within them to inspire us,
    so we realize our own capability of the miraculous.

  6. Faraz Thanks, and how wonderful to receive versified comments.

  7. Faraz, I am delighted as well to see your unique style and to see you here.

    Dar Sb, I have written to purchase a new journal and begin right away - rather than my usual scraps of paper here and yonder...

    Am also wondering if at some point those of us keeping journals may enjoy GLEANING from our journals - say once a week or once a month or....whenever....? to share with one another for feedback? I'm not able to coordinate or decide...merely a suggestion...

    I would also love to know more about the phrase from you..."I cannot deny that there isn’t a pattern"...

    What are you reading at the moment or if nearly through...what do you plan to begin soon?

  8. hmm....Dear Connie...quite amused to read your comment...I must say you always say from your heart and thats what I like about you...

    To share our journal's GLEANING once a week is quite an good idea....

    For Dar Sahib...I can guess he is busy completing another exciting and differently narrated book....hmmm....

  9. Hey Thinking,

    Yes, let's hope that we will keep having more and more from our brother and fellow lover of literature, Dar Sahib...what a gem to have here on RR along with all the others!

    I had no intention of writing THREE comments to your post just now, Thinking, but I just felt a strong wish to share some experiences and thoughts - recognizing your deep well and what may be happening sometimes...

    Let's do the Gleanings then...if Dar Sahib agrees...

    Have a really nice time until I see you again...

  10. Well, what are you reading now? What are your current most listened to music items? And what do you say about the Gleanings idea?

    I just stopped by also to say I LOVE the way you encourage each amazing writer here...and what you had to say to ReeBz was beyond beautiful and so heartfelt...I'm sure you are helping to turn each writer here into BEST SELLERS!

    I send you peace and sisterly gratitude filled with love....

  11. Also you are helping to fill the gap of occasionally missing male and teacherly voices and hope you STAY ON...for a long time!

    I'm sure ALL are most grateful...

  12. Connie
    Gleaning idea is absolutely perfect and lets start immediately, starting with you! I will always come as follower.

    When I go to different blogs and say something appreciate that is because there is so much talent and God’s benevolence hidden in each person’s thoughts, dreams and actions that the appreciation becomes just as a duty.

    These days I am very intensively reading critical essays written on Urdu Literature by few very eminent scholars, and I just love it. One has to concentrate very hard, but then the fruits are very sweet and ‘intoxicating’.