Tag Archives: philosophy

Return to Practice

By Eileen Kim

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When I was younger, I understood the concept of practice in the context of the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition: “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”. As a child who participated in many sports and played multiple musical instruments, practice referred to the events I worked on to improve my technical skills. At practice, I would learn how to do better through acts of repetition and intentional change. 

Eventually, I chose to centralize my practice towards my passion for dance. With my goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer, practice took on a whole new layer of meaning. I worked daily and repeatedly at a set of physical movements in ballet to improve and refine my technique. This repetition led to growth and mastery within ballet and my practice became understood as a necessary means that would result in self-improvement.

Photo by Nihal Demirci on Unsplash

As I got older, my conception of practice began to evolve. My practice became grounded in the habitual sense of coming back to something. There was still a level of mastery that I was after, but it was more so realized as a continuous and infinite pattern that I felt compelled to return to. Year after year and almost every day, I would start again at the ballet barre where I would repeat the same series of physical movements. But the sameness of this repetition never bored me, because everyday was different and I was different everyday. Every day brought its own joys and challenges, and everyday I came back with 24 more hours of lived experience. Everything surrounding me was in a constant state of change and the stability of my daily practice became like a refuge for me, one that I could always return to and find comfort in.

As I reflect on how I approach my practice in the present, I have found that in many ways, practice is similar to a routine. The habitual nature of both concepts are the same, but practice puts an intentionality to the repetition and implies a sense of growth. The contents of our daily routines can be the same as our daily practices, but approaching our daily routines as daily practices can drastically reframe how we approach our lives. For me, practice no longer only refers to the physical practice I put into my dancing body. My daily practices encompass how I approach my life, what I eat, what time I go to sleep, how I take care of my body, and how I take care of my mind.

Continue reading Return to Practice

Life These Days

By Brianneth Rocha

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

It seems like just yesterday, the world stopped in response to the pandemic. For the first few months of social distancing, I lost track of the days. Before I had time to perceive it, weeks had gone by. All plans were thrown out the window, and the year that marked the third decade of my life has been nothing like I originally expected. I could have spent all of my time dwelling on the lost moments and experiences, but instead I chose to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, after giving myself time to reflect and acknowledge that my home would most likely be the center of my whole life for the rest of the year, I worked to find my motivation and passion.

At the beginning of the pandemic, things weren’t so bad, as I had school to occupy myself with. Society as a whole went on an exploration through the world of Zoom. There was frustration and even hatred towards technology, and for many learning technology has been like learning a new language. However, once we all settled into the basic framework of living in an online world, technology became the bridge connecting everyone via a virtual landscape. Lately, Zoom has been a key feature in my life. From classes to weekly meals with my friends, it seems that we are all in long-distance relationships these days. We have found a way to connect without the need for physical presence.

Photo by Beci Harmony on Unsplash
Continue reading Life These Days

The Revolving Door

By Zachary Cantrell

Graduation. I can feel it hovering over nearly every conversation I have with my friends, colleagues, family, and even acquaintances, like a ponderous star destroyer, a harbinger of the end times.

“You’re almost done!”

“The last leg…”

“Make it count!”

“The last push!”

It makes me feel as if I am reaching the end of the line. The big race. My life. Honestly, it starts to feel that way sometimes. It’s as if I have lived out my life of education, and beginning my life as… a real person, I suppose? It’s positively daunting. How do I completely construct a new life? I have been wrapping my mind around this for months now, until recently when I began to look at things in a slightly different way. This is not an ending of one life and the beginning of another. Afterall, we only get one life each!

It sounds ridiculously obvious. Of course we only have one life. Here is a different way of looking at it. Last spring, I was in an acting class with a professor named Joseph Hacker, which I enjoyed immensely. One day in class, he said something that gripped me, and stuck with me all this time: “This is the work.” Basically, what we do here is not in preparation for something else. It is not two separate things, the preparation and then the thing, but the preparation IS the thing. It’s all happening, in the here and now, on a continuum.

I could write this off as an isolated circumstance, since I usually like to have more than one credible source on such matters (thank you, Writing 340). However, I was recently in a production of a play by Tom Stoppard called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Forever a fan of Stoppard’s writing, I took his printed words to heart, especially the phrase, “Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.” It nearly blew my mind. Our lives are not a play, with different scenes to mark the biggest moments of our adventure. Life is a revolving door, out of one place and into another. It’s all there, it’s all fair game, and it never stops.

What I am getting at with all of this existential blathering is this: What we did here, are doing here, or will do here at USC is not preliminary. Maybe for some classes it is about going through the motions for the letter grade, or maybe some of the people I met here will never enter into my life again. However, I cannot deny that all of it, “significant” or not, has played an essential part in my identity, here and now.

Graduation is neither an end, nor a beginning. It’s a part of the whole, and a very important one at that. So whether you are walking the stage this Friday, or just beginning your time here at USC, think of it not as a means to an end. Dig deeper. Consider how this university changes you, and how you change it. Because I guarantee that, no matter how big or small the changes are, they are there. And they matter.

Featured image from Pxfuel

Zachary Cantrell is a senior in the BFA Acting program at USC. He has performed in numerous productions during his time here, most recently with Downtown Repertory Theatre at The Pico House. He is also currently pursuing a minor in Cinema. In his free time he enjoys reading, playing racquetball, and bouldering.