With post-its, notes, sketches, and writing scribbled all across the whiteboard, Rashelle and Jay were deeply moved by Josh’s stories, not just because he was placed in circumstances more than 99% of the population will never experience, but they were inspired by his drive and hunger for survival and living life to the fullest.
“A lot of your stories are so great but the fact that you can tell them is also truly special,” Rashelle shared with Josh.
“Even if you’re not in combat, you can learn from those lessons of remaining calm and stay the course. I think so much of what we [designers] try to do is find meaning in anything and put that out there in a clear, concise way. Hearing your story and what you went through, I can’t fully understand what that must have been like for you, but I’d like to communicate that for you.”
It was a moment of connection among individuals who may not have met each other otherwise and it was beautiful.
After spending some time working on design concepts together, Jay and Rashelle pinned their seven drafts up on the cork board. The pair shared with Josh their ideas that they hoped conveyed the message he wanted to share with others. Going through each one carefully, the three talked and deliberated. On the whiteboard, Rashelle would cross out the themes or messages that didn’t make the cut. As the day went by, there were only a few that stood. In particular, the fifth proposed draft had the theme of “Stay in the Fight” that resonated with Josh.
“It’s a motto I use in teaching and it’s also something Marines use,” he explains. In addition to the message of staying in the fight, a design element that Josh gravitated toward was the airplane motif Jay and Rashelle included in a few of the proposed designs. Seeing as Josh wanted to have a call-to-action that gave hope to those struggling, specifically Veterans contemplating suicide, Jay saw an opportunity to combine different elements and themes into one.
“What I love about you finding this passion of flying is that it’s a place for you to self-reflect and feel free, to overlook the clouds,” Jay conveys. “You talk about your experiences like it’s almost as if you’re in the clouds of it all; that you have to dive right in, whatever the outcome is, you have to find focus and drive.”
Jay then notes that while flying can allude to Josh’s perseverance, “flight” is a nice metaphor for the way Josh enjoys life and sees it as a series of opportunities. “Stay in the fight, take flight,” he says, thinking out loud. Rashelle’s jaw drops and eyes meet his and everyone in the room could feel the palpable agreement between the two designers. “‘Fight or flight’ also goes back to the split-second decisions you had to make,” Jay continues.
They look at Josh to see his reaction. Of course, he’s grinning.
Rashelle elaborates even further, “Something that stood out to me was your experience coming home, teaching, and proving life here. There’s this silver lining at the end of all of your stories. [Stay in the Fight/Take Flight] can also be seen as, Veterans coming back overseas. ‘Taking flight’ is finding that new purpose. For you, that’s flying.”
“I like that,” Josh responds, smiling and nodding. “The sky is the limit!”