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.