Michael Rushman

Age: 23

From: Westminster, CA

Instrument: Trombone

School: University of Southern California, MM Trombone Performance

Favorite Drink: Water, Whole Milk, but currently drinking an Americano

"I try and make sure that I never make decisions based on my emotions, because emotions are transitory and they change from day to day. You especially can’t make big decisions, like being a musician, on your emotions. If you’re having a really bad week, or month, it’d be easy to say, ‘forget it, I’m done.’ But, if you have a strong enough ideal of what you want your life to be, then you can make that true. I believe that it’s possible to have the balance of working as a musician, and still maintain artistic integrity. Even if I didn’t know anyone else could achieve that balance, it doesn’t mean I can’t, because I have to find that for myself. I have to believe in it. That’s why it was so powerful for me to continue doing music, because I made the decision based on reason, and not emotions. It’s the exact same thing with marriage. People sometimes think that because the spark is no longer there in a marriage that they have to end it, but no, you made a promise. With the music thing it’s a promise too. It’s not about how you feel, it’s about where your values are and where your ideals are. It’s about what you consider most important, and I consider a lot of things to be more important than my emotions and how I feel. Doing what you love is very different from doing what you feel like"

How do you define inspiration? How do you define motivation? Do you think they work separately?: "They’re definitely different. Motivation is the thought or something external that creates an action out of you. It lights a fire under you to do something. But, inspiration is different because it goes back to the idea of having an ideal. You have to have a concept to strive for. Inspiration is the destination on google maps, and motivation is the route. You can start going somewhere without any destination, and you’re motivated and you’re going somewhere, but you don’t know where you’re going, so there’s not a lot of meaning behind what you’re doing. Inspiration is the thing that gives it meaning."

CR: So, in your opinion, is inspiration the starting point or the ending point?

MR: Oh, that’s tricky. It’s both because inspiration is a vision of where you want to be, but the vision is happening now. It is what’s causing you to move forward and it influences everything in the present. It’s your present vision of the future.

CR: Ok, so I usually save this for last, but it’s relevant now. Do you think that inspiration and motivation generate success? Would you consider success another point of destination?

MR: Well it just depends on what you consider successful. If you just consider happiness success, and you’re happy right now than that’s successful. Success is almost a different thing, because you can still be successful even when you don’t have a job or anything. If you’re happy and you’re doing what you love, to me that’s success. But it depends. Where are you going to put that little pin on your life, on the google map. Where are you going to say exactly where you achieved success, because if it’s some place in the future, then that requires inspiration and motivation to achieve the ideal. But, success doesn’t have to be connect to inspiration, you can be successful without it. I don’t think of success much, because it’s not very motivating in a way for me. I have some ideas of where I want to be, but if I end of somewhere else and I’m happy and I feel like I’m making a difference doing good work, fulfilling my job as a human being, then I will consider that successful.

What advice can you offer to help someone?: "Lots of people have given me great advice, but a major problem that I have is that I don’t seek out more advice from other people, especially when I need it. I think it’s one of those things where you don’t want to show weakness, because I feel like I could be dismissed by others. But what I am realizing more and more, and what I really like about your project, is that everybody goes through similar things, everyone is at a different point, and there are lots of important things that I can learn from my colleagues at Thornton and elsewhere because maybe they have dealt with it already. Maybe sometimes they might be going through something that I can help them with, I don’t know. But, I would give to other people the same thing I had to ask myself which was where are your principles and what do you believe in most. Music isn’t God for me, I actually do believe in God and my principles are outside of music, but it applies because it’s all connected. You have to have a really strong understanding of who you are and how you can live with yourself and be happy. At the end of the day, you have to look at yourself and be OK with who you are, but it differs for everyone. That can’t be taught, you have to learn that for yourself."

Inspirational Quote/Life Mantra:

“Was I sleeping while the others suffered, am I sleeping now? When I wake, or think that I do, what will I say about today. Of me too, someone is saying, ‘he is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on.’” Passage from an existentialist play called Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

“The world offers you comfort, but you are not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”-Pope Benedict XVI