The Parative Project

this flag won't change your life, but it will change someone else's

Dream to Do: JEFF RILEY

Drew Oxley

In today's Dream to Do interview we are sitting down with a talented videographer and photographer. We wanted to interview Jeff because he recently moved to LA to chase a dream and what he was chasing ended up not being as dreamy as he thought. We can't wait for you guys to hear how it all turned out!


PARATIVE: Hey Jeff! Thanks for sitting down with us. To get to know more about you before we talk dreams, what is something that you are passionate about?

JEFF: A little bit about me and what I like: I’m very into being outside, most specifically I love rock climbing and it’s very much a huge part of who I am. Being active and climbing has changed my entire personality. The outdoors is pretty much the key ingredient to my balance as a human.

PARATIVE: Tell us a little bit about your transition to move out west.

JEFF: My path started in Ohio about 3 months ago. I found myself working in Columbus for a few years and I felt that my time was about up there.  So I made a decision and began packing up my life for a huge move across the country to Los Angeles. I was bright eyed and psyched on moving to a new home filled with promise. I wanted to become this cool production guy and work on big sets with big lights and be important... This was the beginning of my destruction. 

When I got to LA, I felt miserable and was having a hard time connecting. What I realized was, I wasn’t excited to be living. I moved to this city just to work. I didn’t take into account how important the ingredient of being active and having the time to be active was to me. I started to get jobs and talked with people in the industry and all of a sudden this image of myself appeared. I saw myself working my way through the industry and I saw myself working more hours than I’d ever want to work. I started thinking, “When will I be able to go climbing?” “Will I have enough time to workout?” This future-Jeff appeared to me and I saw him tired and overworked. I didn’t want to become him. 

PARATIVE: Crazy how easy it is to forget and prioritize the things that are important to us. How did you pull yourself out of that situation?

JEFF: Fortunately, around the same time I had a gig in a city I had always dreamt about living in, but never had the chance to visit, Denver. I stepped off the plane in Denver, Colorado and greeted my colleague. He is a good friend of mine and as we drove into Denver I expressed my misery in LA to him. Almost simultaneously we challenged, “What about Denver?” It made sense. Denver has everything I could want to be happy regardless of what I’m doing for work. So, I chased my key ingredient to finding happiness and peace: being outside. I called a good friend of mine (Joel B.) and told him what I was thinking. He rightfully played the devil’s advocate and told me I should give LA more time and I quickly told him “naw.”

I cancelled my plane back to LA. bought a car. Drove to LA. packed that car. Drove back to Denver.


PARATIVE: So cool, happy for you, man. So what exactly would you say your dream is? 

JEFF: My dream is pretty simple. I want to live a life with a foundation of happiness and strong sense of fulfillment. I think it’s easy to fall into this trap of saying “well, if I get this position at work, I’ll start making however much money and then I can do whatever.” For me at this time in my life, I was chasing a false promise. I don’t want my happiness or quality of life to depend on what I’m doing for work or something in the future. Then when that work falls through or I become burnt out, that happiness dissipates and the ones I love most will suffer from my attitude, because it was never a truly genuine source of happiness to begin with. 

PARATIVE: Do you think you just haven't found the right job yet?

JEFF: No, I would like to add, that I know a lot of people really love what they do for work and that it indeed provides an authentic form of happiness to them. I think that’s so great. I hope to find that one day for myself. But for right now, I had to let go of that task. During two separate times in my young adult life I had been under the impression that I had found that certain job. Unfortunately, things change and I realized I was trying too hard to make my work life define my existence. It wasn’t until I just let go of any expectations and searched for what makes me happiest, whether it be occupation or recreation. That’s when I felt the truest sense of happiness I’ve yet to feel. I let go of everything and said, “Alright Jeff, what do you actually want to do with your time?”

PARATIVE: Thanks for sharing your story with us. For anyone traveling to Denver, where's your favorite spot to hike or climb?

JEFF: I don't have a favorite spot, but my home training ground has been bouldering at Carter Lake.

PARATIVE: What's your favorite thing in our shop right now?

JEFFMy favorite thing in the store has to be any of the flags.  I think they’re just incredible and so inspiring.  Also they make any picture about 10 times cooler. I would buy ten of them if I had the money.


The Parative Project has a dream of bringing freedom to those suffering from oppression. We love to hear the dreams that others are pursuing. If you have a dream that you would like to share with us please reach out!