I’m not really sure how to start this, so I’ll just start with: you greatly inspire me and I truly believe reading your books has changed me and my life. I don’t say that lightly! Very few books have changed my life. Pretty much, The Bible, John Krakauer’s In To Thin Air, and your book Learning to Fly. I had no idea the impact it would have on my life when I first picked it up! Basically, my husband and I came to Moab for the first time last August and completely fell in love. That first time driving in on River Road (we had just finished a backpacking trip in the San Juans of CO) feels like it must have been years ago, but really it was just last August! That’s crazy to even type out. Anyway, since our first visit 7 months ago, we’ve made our way back two more times despite living and working 20 hours away in The Woodlands, Texas (just north of Houston, pretty much the opposite of Moab). We’re now planning on taking a break from his job in September to live in Moab for three months at the end of this year. I’m counting down the days!
Anyway, all that to say, we’re extremely novice climbers that love Moab and that’s how I found your book! I expected to enjoy reading about some Moab adventures, I certainly did NOT expect to read a book that would deeply convict me and cause some intense re-evaluating of my personality and outlook on things. Steph, you’re an amazing writer. You’re so real without being too “TMI” and you’re so encouraging AND convicting at the same time! Your book rocked my world! As I read through it, I found myself reflecting on my own approach to adventure, and my own lack of control over fear. I am known to panic and freeze up when things get scary. I’m terrified of heights! The first time I tried to climb and outdoor route ended with me crying and taking off my shoes after making it ~10 feet off the ground. I didn’t expect to tell you that, but I guess it gives you good perspective. So that’s where I was about a year ago. And then I gave up on being able to climb. My husband pursued it, but I continued to keep myself in comfortable, controllable situations and avoid times that I might feel fear. Until I read your book. It didn’t just fire me up for a few days, it truly changed my thinking. It taught me to stay calm, try new things, and above all, accept how out of control I am of outside circumstances and how in control I can be of how I react to them! That is a hugely valuable lesson. I must thank you for it!
On a lighter note, I also have an adventure dog-friend named Charlie, that I found myself loving more and more with each story I read about your Fletch. Charlie has been with me through a lot of life and I have really loved reading your writing about your relationship with Fletch because it reminds me of Charlie! He also loves the Moab desert 🙂 I’ll attach a photo of him.
So, I read Learning to Fly, and after processing it for a few weeks, I made a bucket list just so I could add “Skydive in Moab” to the top. And let me tell you, when I read the quote “I am the second to last person I would ever expect to skydive, the last being my mom” I laughed out loud because that is ME! I was never interested in it. Doing a tandem jump is a really popular 18th-birthday activity in Texas, but I just never wanted to! And then I read your book. I was so inspired to face my fears and see if I could maintain control over my brain while trusting the control of the tandem master. I knew that if I did it in a place I loved, like Moab, I had a better chance at enjoying the experience. So on our last trip to Moab earlier this month, my husband and I did our first skydives! It was so amazing! The hype of the drop zone, mixed with the nostalgic feeling of seeing a Cessna in person after reading about them in your book, and talking with my tandem master about you (I had written “Steph’s book” under the “How did you hear about us” section of my release form) truly removed all nerves! I was just plain excited. They allowed us to wear altimeters for our jump, and I loved watching the number climb as we got higher. I couldn’t wait for the cold rush of air when they opened the door! That was the first moment I really realized what I was doing and felt a little bit of fear! Oh man. That jump was AMAZING. Life-changing. I shocked myself (and every person that knew me!) when I did it. And LOVED it! I can’t wait for my next jump! We are currently saving up so we can do AFF (or an equivalent course) in Moab when we come in September. I am so excited.
I am writing this because I want to express to you how much your writing has meant to me. I truly believe I have learned so much from you. I think one of the amazing things about books, and these days social media/blogs, is the fact that someone can be mentored by another person without ever meeting in real life. I see you as a mentor. Everything, from your crazy amazing climbs, to your beautiful videos, to your raw, honest writing has inspired me and continues to inspire me daily. Thank you for not only being an incredible example but also for being so open in your writing and sharing in a way that allows so many people to be inspired by you! I look forward to following your journey in the future, and I hope I get to run in to you in Moab this fall!
Thank you Steph, have a great week!
A few photos (after our jump, our little crew on our first visit to moab)
I’m glad you had a great jump at Skydive Moab! Congrats on choosing to follow your dreams: it always takes you to the right place 🙂 I really appreciate that you took the time to write to me! And thank you for the adorable dog pictures.