Note: Josh often wrote about his thoughts and struggles as a means of understanding them. Josh’s feelings in this short narrative were based on the concepts in the poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” written by William Butler Yates in 1888. It recounts an idyllic spot where one could escape to a place of peace and rest. The actual island is off the coast of Ireland. Josh read a lot of literature in his 11th grade English class.
At the green lawn of the park up my street, ball in hand, man’s best friend by my side, I stand. The stress and frustration of the day flows into my arm; I swing: throwing it towards the horizon, my dog synchronously following after. Panting, but quite overjoyed, my little companion returns his tennis ball to my feet. I let my pain and anger fly with each throw until my mind is relieved and my worries are momentarily gone. And what bliss that moment is!
I sit, and my dog, quite exhausted, licks my hand. Rubbing his belly, I turn, and, grievingly, see the now orange sky. I will the sun to not set and for time to stand still. But alas, time is its own master, and the day grows late. I walk away sadly, facing my troubles now, but it won’t be long before I return to my own Innisfree.
Note: Over the years, our family has done a lot of backpacking and hiking in Utah, and some of our best memories have come from these experiences. At times, I would take the children together; other times, I would take them individually or in pairs based on their ages and abilities. As Josh notes in his story back in 2003, this was a very special time for us, not simply for the place, but with whom we shared the adventure. He actually wrote and entered this story in an art festival, and he was very proud of his ability to describe the events so clearly. Unfortunately, this was one of the few trips where I didn’t take a camera.
Backpacking with My Dad to Silver Lake
By Joshua Davis
One of the happiest days of my life, if not the happiest days of my life, was when my dad took me backpacking up to Silver Lake in Utah County, Utah.
We drove to Granite Flats up in American Fork Canyon, and got our gear out and up the trail we hiked. We hiked a bit, crossed a stream, and came to a wilderness sign. My dad thought we were halfway there (we were only one- eleventh of the way).
We hiked some more, crossed a little stream. We hiked some more, and saw wild raspberries. We hiked even more and saw two moose. We hiked more and saw a water fall. And we hiked and hiked, and FINALLY, we were there.
We hiked around, and chose a camp site. We didn’t notice the small holes in the ground where we would pitch our tent. We pitched our tent right over them. We met a few people who were waiting for a scout troop. They showed us where a freshwater spring was.
They said it was so clean that it didn’t need to be purified. We purified the water just in case!
Wonderful! Excellent! Fresh and Cool! The water fit all marvelous descriptions!
Stunning! Superb! I poured it over my tongue and let the fabulous water slosh in my mouth. It makes me think where bottled water companies like Arrowhead get their “Mountain Fresh Spring Water”
We carried the water back to camp. We got out our portable backpacking stove and cooked a box of Macaroni and Cheese that we brought with us. Then we cooked up freeze dried corn. We topped our meal off with chocolate fudge mousse at dusk.
We packed up for the night, climbed in our tent, and went to sleep. We awoke to the sound of birds singing, fish jumping, and the light breeze blowing in the trees. We climbed out of our tent and whipped up some instant oatmeal.
Then we filled a day pack with all we needed for The Hike: The hike up to Silver Glance Lake; the lake above Silver Lake, which I would later call: Hidden Lake.
The hike up was much steeper then I thought. It was merely one mile, but it felt like five. We took a break a few times, then we met a couple of people behind us. They were heading up to Silver Glance Lake also. Huffing and puffing, we hiked together to the top. The people we met went fishing, and we took a swim in the freezing water of the lake. My dad guessed that the water was coming from another lake above.
Prepared for our journey down, we saw Granite Flats; where we started. With a few trips and stumbles, we went skidding down the mountain.
At the bottom, we started to put away our tent. Then as we picked up our tarp, a swarm of yellow jackets spun out of the holes in search of the criminal. Apparently, we’d kept them prisoners for a day. We retreated back, for we didn’t want to be stung. Once we got them calmed down, we finished packing up for the trip down that I wished could be delayed: The trip Home.
We were half way down, with raspberries on each side of us, when we reached the little stream. We stopped, and got our purifier out and pumped water in our water bottles. The water wasn’t as sweet as before, but still better than tap water. My dad started up his famous stories. That day’s story was called “The Great Adventures of Joe.”
We started hiking some more; my dad told his stories as I listened. We paused every now and then to take a sip of water, and start hiking again.
Time flew and suddenly we saw our car. I hardly noticed the wilderness sign on the way down. It was like one minute we were at the stream, and another we were at the bottom. We took off our gear, hopped in the car, and drove down the canyon. We drove down the canyon, down from Granite Flats, down from Tibble Fork, down from Timpanogos National Monument, and to Wendy’s for the traditional Burger and a Frosty, and never since nor before have I had a Better Experience.
Note: In Josh’s 11th grade English class, students read Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice (English novelist, 1775 – 1817), and one of writing styles they were learning dealt with different forms of satire (exaggeration, incongruity, reversal, and parody). If you know the novel and the characters, his references will make more sense.
In his story, Josh reveals his wit and humor on romance stories, but in real life, he had great respect for the institution or marriage and women.
D.C. — The President signed a bill today outlawing love stories after growing complaints about their negative impact on health. This comes after the forty-second death this year confirmed to have been linked to the excessive reading of romantic literature.
Blidia Austin, 14, died last week after reading 27 chapters of Pride and Prejudice late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Blidia was assigned the book by her inexperienced English teacher. “I told Blidia not to go to sleep until she had finished the assigned chapters, “Swacy Austin told the Associated Press. “But [Wednesday] morning, she wouldn’t wake up.”
An autopsy revealed the prideprejudicetomoa was the cause of her death.
“This fatal condition was proven years ago to be linked with love novels,” the surgeon general said in a press conference earlier today. “I’m glad that Mr. Obama finally got around to taking my advice. It’s unfortunate, however, that these recent events were required to convince him to take action.”
The new law will ban the publication and printing of romance novels in the US. Another bill that will require libraries to destroy those books and outlaw their import is pending approval from the senate.
Note: As part of the school curriculum, students were taken to a ski resort to try cross-country skiing. This story records Josh’s experience on that fateful day.
by Josh Davis (Written May 5, 2009)
They left me behind. Well, I don’t have very many friends in this class anyway, I’m thinking as I slide up the gradually rising hill. Another student’s red fuzzy cap falls out of sight as he skis down the slope on the other side, about a hundred feet away from me. Oh, well, I’d just slow him down anyway. He didn’t know how to ski either when we got here, but I guess that I am an exceptionally slow learner. I’ve been improving, though. It’s been about five minutes since I’ve fallen down last. Of course, that’s with the tracks carved into the snow; without them, I’m hopeless.
Glancing around as I finally reach the top, I don’t see anybody in sight. Well, I guess that no one will see me fall when I do, I half optimistically, half pessimistically think as I look down the slope, lined with trees on both sides. It really isn’t steep at all; it just stretches out a long ways. “Here I go,” and I slide myself towards the decline. Remembering the technique that Coach showed us back at the lodge, I bend myself low over the skies, squinting as I start the decent. What a thrill, coasting down this hill, quite steady, but half prepared for a crash anyway.
The trees zoom by faster and faster as I’m picking up speed, the wind rushing in my ears as a roaring sea. I see a brown dog a ways off, basking in the sun that we both are enjoying. I’m thrilled, and a little surprised, as I glide smoothly and steadily down, keeping my balance the best I’ve ever been able to do so far. Things are going great. Life is great. Life is . . .
“Oh no,” I scream in my mind, my contentment broken. To my horror, I realize that that dog, now with its side facing me, is far too big to really be a dog. That furry creature is a moose! So I panic. I don’t know how to stop myself, especially since my skies are stuck in the tracks, the tracks that lead directly into the moose’s abdomen. I throw myself to the ground, the only thing that I can do to avoid hitting it. “Ouch . . . ouch . . . ouch,” as I tumble on the hard snow. My left foot snaps off of its ski, and after a few more rolls, I finally come to a halt, face down in the snow. I look up, dazed, to face the moose only fifty feet in front of me. Then, she charges. My right ski still firmly attached to its foot, I couldn’t get up and run. I expected death, or just a life-crippling injury, but that never came. Just an arm’s stretch away, she suddenly veers off into the trees on the left. My life is spared.
After a while, I recover from the shock. I hoist my attached ski out from under me, and pull myself up. “Nothing broken,” I declare as I walk back to my other ski, but I sure ache though. Picking up my ski, it looks like I broke it! Part of the plastic latch that attached it to my skiing boots was missing, apparently having snapped off. I might as well now take off my other ski and just walk back to the lodge. After what seems like forever, I make it back, just in time too. My class was already loading the bus. I rush inside of the lodge, pulling off my shoes and putting my skies away, not even stopping to tell the employee that one of their skies is broken. I book it on the bus, and plop myself down. I don’t dare tell anyone about my encounter; nobody else saw it, and it is too incredible for anyone to believe.
Well, at least I can remember, what would become my most enjoyable skiing trip.
High School English Journal
Note: Students in Josh’s 11th grade English class were required to keep a journal as part of the course objectives. One focus of the class was on English literature including Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jane Austen, as well as the writings of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and W. B. Yeats. To encourage writing and critical thinking, students were given prompts to write on a variety of topic, and I have provided Josh’s responses. As his father, I have written some additional notes below some of the entries to provide context to the story or thought.
September 9, 2009
Writing Prompt: “I can’t do many things well, but one thing I know I can always do . . . “
Josh’s Response: I am good a trouble-shooting computer problems, particularly software issues. I can’t debug coding errors, but I’m good at helping end users solve human errors, like “Why can’t I hear anything,” or “how do I [fill in the blank].” When it comes to user interfaces, my brain simply understands them easily.
September 10, 2009
Writing Prompt: “Write about a time you labored hard for something and achieved it. What were the trials? What did you learn?”
Josh’s Response: Well, I suppose that I can write about the time that I hiked Angel’s Landing in Zions National Park. That was a very strenuous hike, but I made it to the top. I started out dehydrated and only 2 1/2 quarts of water. But I made it.
October 07, 2009
Writing Prompt: “Explain the first time you were enamoured with someone (or something). Why? Explain features, feelings, sights, sounds, smells, situations, sightings, and discussions.”
Josh’s Response: This is an item instead of a person. I will refer to the 17-inch summer ’09 Apple MacBook Pro. This georgeous (sic) computer has a unibody design (meaning that the main enclousre is a single piece of metal carved out a a solid block of aluminum). As a result, the laptop is thinner, lighter, sleaker, and more durable than anything else on the market. It has a bright, high resolution glossy display, and a battery which will run continuously for seven to eight hours.
Note: Josh simply loved anything Apple He was always impressed with the simplicity and artistic look and feel of all their products, and this included anything Pixar. When Apple was going to announce any new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference or other similar event, he didn’t want anyone to spoil the surprise with teasers. He wanted to watch and digest the entire broadcast from beginning to end. Josh simply appreciated and loved quality products that were done right.
October 10, 2009
Writing Prompt: “Musical training is a more potent [teaching] instrument than any other in the integration of the human being because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the Soul on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the Soul of him who is rightly educated truly graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful” – Plato, The Republic
Josh’s Response: Can music really affect a person’s ideas, feelings, behavior, or attitudes about life? Yes, I do believe that music can affect a person. When I was very young, one popular composition by Mozart (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) would always calm me down when I was upset. And in seminary, I learn scripture masteries best when put to music.
Note: Within a couple weeks of birth, Josh would only settle down Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik. It was almost by magic that he immediately stop crying.His mom also would hum the melody of the son wherever they might be, and it soothed Josh. When Josh speaks of scripture masteries, he is speaking of memorizing important scriptural verses in the Bible.
December 25, 2009
I woke up on Christmas to the sound of the “Up” (Pixar) soundtrack. That’s how I learned that we got “Up” for Christmas. I got clothes from Santa, along with a book, a record (Mozart), among other things. I had a Great day.
January 21, 2010
Writing Prompt: “What traits do I look for in the opposite gender?”
Josh’s Response: Someone who is patient with me and my weaknesses. A person who cares about me and my needs. Someone who is open and faithful.
Note: At this point in Josh’s English class, the were reading Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, and some of the class assignments were to reflect on relationships.
January 27, 2010
Writing Prompt: “Would you marry for any reason?”
Josh’s Response: No, I do not value anything over real love.
Writing Prompt: “Is love enough to make all relationships last?”
Josh’s Response: For real love (diligence, patience, goodness), yes.
Writing Prompt: “How do you know if you’re in love?”
Josh’s Response: Assuming that this is true love, it is hard to tell. It is something that needs to be experienced before it can be understood.
Note: In Josh’s more private writings, he spoke of the importance of marriage and family, something he highly valued.
Meeting the Challenge (August 3, 2003)
By Joshua Davis
I will not give up;
I am willing to start;
I will climb until I reach the top.
I will have courage;
My goal is up there;
I know I can do it;
I can feel it in my heart.
I will climb happily;
I know I have to do this.
Now, I look up; it’s time for me to start;
Now, I will climb, climb, climb;
I am confident in myself;
I have courage,
I will climb, climb, climb.
This is hard, but I won’t give up;
I will climb, climb, climb;
I am halfway there.
I will climb this cliff;
I will stay confident;
I will keep focused;
I, now, I’m there!
Note: Over the years, Josh wrote down his interests, hobbies, and dislikes as part of school assignments and his journal. I think that many of us have done something similar at one time or another. For this page on his site, I have included lists of his preferences so you can get to know him better from the inside out.
How to Be Like Josh (or All About Me)
by Josh Davis
A List Created in Elementary School
- Things I like to do in my free time: Read
- Things I do well: computers and cooking
- My favorite sports: hiking
- My favorite movies: Pixar
- My favorite foods: Japanese
- My favorite color: Blue in first grade, changing to Army green in 4th grade and later to blue starting in 5th grade
- My favorite school subjects: science and electronics
- My future occupation: graphic designer, computer programmar
To be like me, you have to . . .
- love flying on airplanes
- have dark brown hair
- hate mushrooms
- have asthma and reflux
- be great with computers
A List Created in December 2010
Note from Dad: Josh wrote this list as part of a therapy assignment to self-reflect on what he considered his strengths and anything he saw as a shortcoming (whether it was within his control or not). Then, he was asked to write on how his “negative” points could be positives.
|Things I like about myself||Things I dislike about myself|
|I like my ability to have empathy.|
I like my honesty.
My ability to repair electronics.
My ability to troubleshoot computer software issues.
My musical abilities.
My different colored eyes.
|My slow processing speed.|
My past failures.
My physical disabilities.
My mental disabilities.
Struggles with social situations.
Poor time management.
Getting stuck on little things.
How can these things be positive?
3 – Learning opportunities.
8 – I’m good at organizing.
To Josh, some of his struggles seemed overwhelming to him at times, but they also amplified his ability to feel and show empathy for others in some many small acts of compassion and service. In this way, such adversity can be a hidden blessing in helping us grow in ways not otherwise possible. At school, he often saw other people dealing with emotional turmoil and sought to ease their burdens. He also supported and friendshipped those with intellectual disabilities, not because he viewed people as projects, but rather he could see people as true friends who were worthy of esteem and respect.
I say all of this in no way to aggrandize Josh or his behavior, but rather to illustrate how emotional challenges in our own lives can broaden and deepen our feelings for others.