I was recently riding a train to my old office job when i had a vivid vision. I admit, i was listening to Talib Kweli’s Get By again. That vision would turn out to be the foundation of the following article…

The Deliberate Day Dream

Do you ever stop and really wonder what kinds of messages are being embedded into our brains? For instance, take the daily New Yorker’s commute. Whether we’re aware of it or not, these advertisements are what our minds are recording:

  • TV Shows: The Walking Dead, The Fashion Show, The Fairy Job Mother
  • The NY Lottery’s instant scratch-off “Money For Life”
  • Bud Light Game Time!
  • A Vacation: “Life if Natural in Chiapas”
  • Zipcar: “If your boss asks, you were on a sales call”

I paid close attention and asked myself: what is the common underlying layer in all of the above? It turned out to be easily identifiable: ESCAPE!

This particular train-station was dead smack in the middle of mid-town and i believe it heavily targeted white-collar workers. It seems people are looking for some escape from their lives, and i don’t blame them. This is why living your life on purpose is so powerful!

As Obama said: “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”

Now i don’t want to skew the picture here and pretend that there weren’t some other advertisement types. There were. But, the ratio of above to below advertisements was easily 4 to 1. Here’s the below group:

  • I Love My Boo: Advocating pride in homosexuality (1/2 sized ad)
  • Trees: Promoting clean water and healthy trees
  • The Power (book): “You are meant to have an amazing life”
  • The Orchestra

Not to get too MLK on you, but i had a moment. A flash. Screw it, a dream:

One day i would ride the train and be bombarded with positive poster messages. Messages of hope. Of inspiration. Of Care. I wondered what that would look like.

Instead of escape:

How about encouragement:

Instead of horror:

How about help:

When MLK delivered us his dream speech in 1963, did he actually believe that 45 years later there could, and would, be a black US president? Hell yeah he did! Imagine how “unrealistic” that was.

When i say i one day see an entire subway station promoting positivity, do i actually think it can happen? No, I know it can!!

So Mr. President, what’s it gonna’ take for you to step in and make this happen? Mr. Mayor, where are you on this one?! Will this article make its way across a wealthy philanthropist’s iPhone and into their heart? Maybe.

The MTA earns on average $100 million per year from sales of advertising space – imagine the difference $100 million dollars worth of positive messages would make on our culture.

That’s my dream. Here was his: