In 8th grade, I met a boy named Ryan Dilmore. We were in the same Spanish class. We had some of the same friends. By high school, we were friendly acquaintances. We occasionally exchanged feedback about our work in Photography II, bonded over a mutual appreciation for creativity, and on one embarrassing occasion, he retrieved my angry prom date from the men’s bathroom.
(I don’t know if he remembers that, though.)
Since high school, we haven’t really been in touch. In passing, I heard that he had pursued a career in music. It was one of those “that person from high school stories” that seem to come and go the further you’re out of high school. I didn’t think of it again until a few months ago, when I decided to write some stories for Driftyland about creative, ambitious people.
Immediately, I thought – you should talk to Ryan Dilmore.
I recall thinking – where was Ryan, again? A mutual friend of ours, Andy, had told me last Christmas that Ryan was doing well in… Los Angeles? I checked his Facebook – indeed, it was Los Angeles – and I started listening to some of his music on Rhapsody.
And it was amazing.
I knew I had to tell his story. So I sent him a Facebook message asking if he’d be interested, and of course, if he remembered me. And he answered.
“Of course I remember you. Wow, I’m honored you’d think of me for this. Yeah, I’m down!”
That was a few months ago. Since then, Ryan’s been hard at work on his latest album, “A Light To Lead The Dark”. Knowing the importance of Ryan’s music, I agreed to wait until the album was done to publish this article. I’m so glad I did, because yesterday, I got the email I had been waiting for.
Ryan’s album, as well as a promotional Kickstarter, are finished.
In addition to promoting the album, his Kickstarter also aims to change the world with music. It features an inspirational video, that Ryan calls “an incredible project,” explaining his message. I eagerly watched it, which features Ryan walking through a forest, carrying a small, wooden box.
“Music,” a soothing and extremely familiar voice says, “lives within us all”.
It takes me about three seconds to place it. It’s Josh Radnor – writer, director and lead in Happythankyoumoreplease and Liberal Arts. Also of course, as Ted, from the recently wrapped series, How I Met Your Mother.
Ryan confirms that it’s Josh narrating. If it wasn’t obvious before, I realize the incredible potential of Ryan’s music, as he’s inspired so many people already.
So what inspires Ryan?
“Love, beauty, nature, silence …” Ryan says. “I’d say silence is a huge element. It’s the only space I feel free from distraction, from the chatter in my head,” he explains. “The music is allowed to flow through like a river.”
Ryan also cites Steve Jobs and Elizabeth Gilbert as sources of inspiration.
“For years, I regularly watched Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford. He has been a source of inspiration and imagination for me since I was a little kid,” he explains.
Although Ryan has been inspired by greatness since childhood, he didn’t realize he wanted to be a musician until later in life. Prior to his push towards music, he focused on art and animation. Then, he started recognizing a need within him, a force that I, and many other creative types, are very familiar with.
“Invisible tugs from some force beyond me,” Ryan calls them. As he started listening to his intuition, he explains, a series of “mysteriously fortuitous events” started showing up in his life, solidifying his drive towards music.
But despite luck and opportunity, the road towards being a musician isn’t easy. Ryan credits his gratitude and trust to guide him. He elaborates on his core values with an explanation about how important it is to remain selfless.
“Especially in moments when someone could easily focus on their own desires first,” he says. “I’m inspired by those who act as a radiant light no matter what the outer ‘weather’ looks like. Compassion and enthusiasm are wildly powerful forces in the universe.”
Although I’m already convinced that Ryan and I are kindred spirits, he finds a way to convince me further. We start talking about other career paths he could have taken, and his are the same as mine.
“A movie maker, an artist … I see these as branches on the same creative tree as music, getting to the same heart through different sensory receptors.”
Luckily, Ryan’s never given up on music, though he initially had lukewarm feelings about staying in Los Angeles.
“Especially in the beginning. I felt it was tough to grow up in a place where the forests are lush and the night sky is so lit up, and then choose to live in a city where it’s not so easily visible.”
It wasn’t until he started connecting with other artists and ambitious types that he found his place in California.
“Suddenly, L.A. was taking on a new shape for me. Or, maybe more accurately, it was losing shape altogether. It looks less like a geographic location now, and more like a family portrait.”
Though, he admits, a smoggy portrait. But smoggy or not, Ryan envisions his portrait to become even more vibrant. He shares his advice for other musicians, based on his experience.
“Treat the source of creativity with complete love, devotion and sacredness. Confront any old stories in your head that are not serving the greatest version of yourself and lay them to rest.”
He urges creative types to be kind and confident.
“Remember that kindness is courageous. Wherever your innermost soul is guiding you, follow that boldly.”