With Love, Pain

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from my mentor, Nate. He once told me:

”Aaron, if you can solve somebody’s pain, you can make a product.”

Learning this lesson early in my days as an entrepreneur, I had a compass for identifying pain-points in the industry. As a result, I developed services/skills specifically suited to help those who were in pain.

For most of my career, I’ve been the ‘last contact’ for people with web/design needs. Many of my clients have called me after long, painful experiences with a website developer who took advantage of their technical inadequacies. Often, these clients would have little-to-no budget left over for the completion of their project, and were mentally drained as a result of being a loose rider on a merry-go-round of contractors.

While it hasn’t always been the most lucrative client pool to work with, I’ve enjoyed the process of helping people get back on their feet and move forward with their business, knowing they have a rock-solid website to showcase to the world.

The back-handed side of this practice is that clients aren’t always the victim. Experience has taught me that when somebody has burned through 2-3 designers, it usually isn’t the designer who is the problem. In some cases, the jobs looked a bit more like a cauterization than a complete healing. In either case, the client was able to move forward.

In today’s world, empathy is a gift that’s found few-and-far between the masses. Why? Social media has taught us to squawk our voices to the world, weighing the value of these squawks with the number of likes, hearts, and reactions we get from others.

Likes don’t feel good. Frowny faces don’t feel pain. No number of either will ever provide somebody with an accurate feeling of understanding for their individual situation as much as a face-to-face conversation and hug.

In the metaphysical world, each of us have a certain level of energy our bodies project. Aura’s, vibration, or whatever you choose to call it – we each have a sphere of ebbing energy that emanates from our center and leaves a small trail around our environment.

This weekend, I found myself soaring in a meditation session. The experience was inexplicable. As part of the practice, the space provided room to ask questions to the universe and listen to the answers provided. Some might call this ‘prayer’ – tomato, tomato. We’re all spiritual beings.

I felt a very clear answer tell me: “Build that bike.” Which referenced the Trident Motorcycle, a design my mentor, Nate, has been developing for several years.

Since he shared the idea with me, I’ve known in my gut that it was a special project, capable of doing inherent good in the universe for those who have limited mobility.

Yet, in all of the years we’ve talked about the idea, I didn’t have a full understanding, or feeling of physical empathy, of what it meant to have limited mobility, as I’ve been physically fit/active for my entire life.

This weekend, that changed in split second.

I was stretching at the gym, preparing for a workout, when I reached down to stretch my lower back and touch my toes.

Lightning. It felt like a bolt from the sky reached down and entered my lower back. Instantly, I fell to the floor and found myself unable to get up due to the shooting pain which exploded in my spine. There was nobody at the gym to help me, or see me fall in a spasm.

Slowly, I pulled myself up using the bars of a squat rack, and instantly knew my lower back had a herniated disc, as I’ve suffered similar pains in the past – yet, nothing like the pain I experienced that day.

The pain, it was the most I’ve experienced in my entire life. Herniated disks can occur without any prior symptoms, and strike like a bolt of lighting when they occur.

Needless to say, my weekend plans were replaced by recovery and self-care. I found myself battling severe discouragement, because even the smallest of actions, like using the restroom or going down the stairs, have turned into miniature battles to avoid another explosion of pain.

I hobbled down the stairs this morning to make my morning cup of coffee; slowly taking each step. While sitting on the patio, I asked the universe why something like this would happen.

“This is your teacher.” It said, as I watched somebody drive down the street on a motorcycle.

Then, it struck me. Even pain has the ability to teach you something – if you allow it to be your teacher.

I know that in a few days, I’ll be back to my usual self. However, the small amount of time that I’ve been confined to my bed has felt like a personal hell, where I’d do anything to get back out on the streets to ride, dance, or even do something as simple as take a walk to do my laundry.

Today, I am thankful for this experience, because I have a minuscule taste of what it feels like to have restricted mobility. Transparently, I do not have an understanding of what it must feel like to be limited to a wheelchair for years; especially after having experienced the joy of riding a motorcycle across the country.

Yet, I now understand why this tiny incident happened to me – and I am thankful for it.  

Most of us are in some sort of pain. Perhaps it’s physical, emotional, or mental. While I vehemently disagree with Mother T’s diagnosis that suffering is the path to salvation (which is why she withheld using hundreds of millions of dollars donated to her cause), I do agree that it may be a few bricks on the road to your personal transformation.

Today, I’m propped up in bed by a few pillows and waiting for time to provide its healing. I know that things will get better, and am patient for the process to complete.

I have full faith (Full Assurance In The Heart) that this is the year the Trident Motorcycle will be built, and many people will find themselves back on the road after years of being in a wheelchair.

While it may not be healing to make the lame walk, or the blind to see, I believe that somewhere in the universe there is some good that will come putting 400 horses in front of a wheelchair rider, handing the rider a leather jacket, and providing them a way to go back out on the roads to feel the wind beneath their wheelchair.

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