3/24/2010

Become Your Dream

It all started about three years ago when I moved to the Upper East Side from Murray Hill. I just graduated from a challenging graduate program at New York University and I was ready to take on the “real world.” After six straight years of academia, I was hoping to have a better idea of what this “real world” was like and I chose to start my new journey on the Upper East Side.

The first few months after graduation were difficult and I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost and confused. Even in a huge city like New York with endless possibilities, I needed a sign that I was moving in the right direction. Then one day when I walked out of my five-story walk-up, I saw three simple words that hit me like a ton of bricks. Written on a dirty, old twin mattress slumped against the curbside were the words –

Become Your Dream

Alongside that powerful phrase was a picture of a fish jumping out of its tank. Tears immediately swelled in my eyes. How could three simple words have such an impact on me? Maybe because I was finally that fish taking a leap of faith and jumping out of the tank into the world? Months passed by and I did not see the words again - but I never forgot them. Then about six months later when I was having a hard time at my first job after graduate school, I saw those three beautiful words on an old Ikea dresser –

Become Your Dream

This time, however, the name De La Vega was written next to it. I immediately went up to my apartment and Googled “Become Your Dream De La Vega.” To my surprise, James De La Vega is a famous artist in New York City who has been spreading his thought-provoking words throughout the city for many years – first in East Harlem and now with a museum in the East Village. I was even more delighted to discover that in 2005, De La Vega painted a mural of his iconic words and jumping fish on a brick wall located in my very own Upper East Side neighborhood. Thankfully, this mural is still around and can be found on East 95th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue for locals to visit and draw inspiration from its beautiful colors and message.


I can honestly say that ever since I saw my first “Become Your Dream” three years ago, I have a more positive outlook on my future and I am taking the necessary steps to reaching my true potential. A few months ago, I met De La Vega for the first time and told him how his words changed my life. He asked me why those three words aroused such emotion in me. I told him it meant so much because the real world is not always easy and I am discovering that everyday – post graduate school. There are so many people, places, and opportunities that it is easy to lose yourself and – most importantly your dreams – in the chaos of everyday life and particularly in a city like New York. Seeing those three words pop out of garbage cans and juxtaposed in the middle of a busy street really makes me stop and reflect what I want out of my life.

Unfortunately, I do not have photos from my first encounters of De La Vega’s message three years ago, but I recently began making a scrapbook of every “Become Your Dream” I find on the Upper East Side and have over 50 photos in my collection. De La Vega himself does not write every “Become Your Dream” I stumble across but, rather, it is people just like me who are inspired by his words and want to spread the message to others.

I urge everyone to visit East 95th Street and witness De La Vega’s Upper East Side treasure. It will inspire you to jump out of the tank and “Become Your Dream.”









21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining what this means. I've been seeing the hand-written versions on the UES lately, and now I know what it's all about.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally with the impact these 3 words can make. Also agree with how life and living in NYC you get lost along the way.

The only thing that I find frustrating about the message just for my personal life is not knowing the steps to take to live that dream. But the old cliche about never losing hope comes to mind that someday I can figure it out.

I wish you all the best and success in Becoming Your Dream, it seems you are heading on that path already.

Anonymous said...

I love this post :)

Anonymous said...

I was wondering who was doing this too, until I saw him one night with his sharpie.

What's interesting is that he's been at it for 3 years but this theme "Become your dream" was echoed during Obama's campaign 2 yrs ago along with "We are the ones we've been waiting for". Coincidence? Inspiration? Zeitgeist?

written essays said...

These are very nice pics!

Anonymous said...

REMEMBER, THE WORLD GIVES YOU NOTHING
IF YOU WANT SOMETHING YOU MUST CREATE IT
-DE LA VEGA

Joe Martinez said...

Here is another image, from in front of the Fairway in the UWS

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=31454021&l=371e4e5800&id=1522383349"

Anonymous said...

This guy was living in a neighboring apartment. He was a rude unfriendly person and a terrible neighbor. He was evicted from his apartment in August and ABANDONED 6 cats. What a f_ing hypocrite... unless your dream is to be cruel to animals.

Victoria Anne, a.k.a. Vic DaChick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I started seeing this phrase written in chalk with the fish this week all over the place and today finally took a pic, uploaded it to facebook and googled! Thanks for the explaination!

Anonymous said...

I have been seeing this all over lately-glad to know its something real and not a underground marketing campaign for something

Anonymous said...

I have a similar story, as the person who moved to the Upper East Side from Murray Hill. I too am a graduate student in NYC, and I was walking late home one night, tired from work, when I had stumbled upon the words, become your dream. It sparked some hope in me, I had been struggling to find my path again, after going through a terrible break up, and going through withdrawals from missing my college friends, and working as a waitress, at a profession that my degree has no use for. I had to think about what I had just seen after passing the sign, it felt a little erie, as if someone from above was giving me a sign when most needed, but in a calming way, and a smile came across my face, and for the rest of the night I was able to have a great sleep, and a great next day.
Thank You!

Phiiiiiiiish said...

Ugh. I have to see this crap on a daily basis as I walk out of my apartment. Keep your thought provoking anti-establishment art to yourselves you damned hippies. No one wants to sell out to the man after four years of "expanding your horizons" at college, but it is called real life. Get a haircut, shave, get a job, and start contributing to society bro.

comedy said...

thanks for sharing. I've seen the "become your dream" a few times and love it everytime...never knew who'd done it, but happy to know, sort of.

truly inspiring words

Anonymous said...

I just recently saw a tag very similar on Lexington Ave between 92nd and 93rd. The only difference was it said "Become your Wet Dream" is this De La Vega?

Anonymous said...

The main problem I have with Da La Vega's "art" is that he frequently executes it on perfectly good furniture left on the curb -- furniture that could otherwise be used by someone who doesn't have much money to furnish an already expensive NYC apartment. Stick to writing on rubbish, and leave private property and usable goods alone.

Anonymous said...

I was walking north on 5th Ave towards East 94th Street with a guy from Africa whom I had just met and we were talking about our futures, expectations and dreams when I saw "Become your dream" written on the ground. Synchronicity?! Randomness?! Priceless!

BB said...

I've starting taking pictures whenever I see Become Your Dream on the UES too! Would you like me to forward them to you? Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

i saw this when i went to NYC too and just like you, it has never left my mind. good luck to you, becoming your dream :)

Anonymous said...

The wall on E. 95th St. was painted over in early spring of 2011. James de La Vega has been doing this work since at least the mid 1990's or earlier.

POGNYC

CHRISTINME said...

I have also seen this many times on the street walk and on furniture to be thrown out. All I can say is......I thank God for him, and I pray that he also becomes his dream because he has always at the right time,inspired me to fulfill mine. He also leaves quotes like.... Subliminal quotes like .... An eye for an eye leaves the world blind, The world makes no sense at first glance, unconditional love, and lastly inspire children to think powerfully. God bless.