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Ekberg Risher: Facing the impossible and doing it anyway

‘I’ll go first,” I said to Theresa, the facilitator at Miraval Spa down in Arizona.

It was March of 2009, and Dad and I had checked in for five days of recuperation after Mom died. Part of the offerings include challenges.

I stepped into the black harness. She attached the two bungee cords onto the back, and handed them to Sam and Kenny, my spotters and fellow Miravalites. She pointed to the 25-foot-high telephone pole and said, “Now you’re going to climb to the top, get onto the metal plate without holding onto anything, twirl around 180 degrees, and only when you’re ready, you’re going to jump off!”

I looked up at the rigging to assess its safety potential. The cords looped around two pulleys attached onto the wooden frame, and I saw my two new best friends on the ground firmly holding the ropes in case I fall. I don’t think anyone had died from attempting the Quantum Leap, as this experience was called.

“Have you got me?” I squeaked, my first foot on the metal rung. “Will you please keep the ropes tight so I can feel safer?”

“Sure,” they both cheerfully replied. “We’ve got your back,” Kenny adds.

I took two steps up. “This is easy, kind of easy,” I thought. I kept climbing. Halfway up, I started to think about things.

“Have you got me?” I yelled a little louder this time, you know, so they could hear me.

“We’ve got your back,” Kenny yelled.

I made it to the top, and put my hand onto the metal plate. It wobbled. It twirled. At this point, I knew with every fiber of my being that it was impossible and there was absolutely no way I could do it.

What followed was a long loud string of obscenities I don’t need to recreate here, but everybody waited patiently on the ground while I figured things out. By some miracle, I was able to hoist myself up the last two feet of space onto the floppy metal plate that was so small, my toes hung out over the edge. I crouched over so far that my thighs were shaking from the strain, my hands out for balance, my eyes focused down. I slowly stood up.

“Now twirl around!” Theresa yelled.

I bent my knees, pulled in my elbows and started to do a little butt shake twist thing. I finally made it and started to breathe again.

“Just stand there for a while and let it soak in,” Theresa suggested.

I felt an incredible bolt of energy flash through me from head to toe, and ironically I felt more grounded than I had ever felt on earth. I felt solid. Real. Powerful. I wanted to stay up there forever, but it was Kenny’s turn.

I bent my knees, screamed, “This is for you, Mom!” and launched myself out into space. Kenny and Sam quickly pulled me up so I was just hanging suspended 25 feet in the air. I felt the tears wet on my face, and I couldn’t stop crying.

“I love you!” I screamed to Kenny and Sam.

“We love you, too!” they cheerfully screamed back.

They lowered me to the ground, and I was still shaking. But not from the climb up. That was easy. Not from the leap. That was easy. I was shaking because I faced something I knew in my heart to be impossible, and yet I did it anyway. And that is most certainly my personal quantum leap.

For more information on the Quantum Leap, and Miraval in general, you can check it all out at