Recently I reread the A.G. Sertillanges’s classic work on the life of the mind: The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. Sertillanges (1863-1948) was a Catholic writer and a member of the Dominican Order. He published The Intellectual Life in 1934. Read the entire series here.
p.119: It is very important to work in joy, therefore with relative ease, therefore in the direction of one’s aptitudes. By going forward at first on different paths each one must discover himself [or herself], and when he [or she] has found his [or her] special vocation, pursue it.
p.119: When the whole field of study has been surveyed and its connections and unity estimated in the light of fundamental principles, it is urgently necessary, if one does not want merely to mark time, to turn to some task which is precise, defined in its limits, proportioned to one’s strength; and then to throw oneself into it with all one’s heart.
p.121: It is a painful thing to say to oneself: by choosing one road I am turning my back on a thousand others. Everything is interesting; everything might be useful; everything attracts and charms a noble mind; but death is before us; mind and matter make their demands.
p.121: Therefore, do not imagine you can do everything. Measure yourself, measure your task; after some experiments, make up your mind, though without rigidity, to accept your limits; persevere, by reading and if necessary by a certain amount of writing, the advantage of your early studies, your contact with wide fields of knowledge–but for the main part of your time and strength, concentrate.