This is how it seems to me: pleasure is in charge when deciding anything. What will produce the next pleasurable result? What action is most likely to produce a compliment? What to eat? Where to be? On the face of things it seems as though pleasure is the biggest motivator in the average priviledged life.
In my remedial understanding of the religion, regardless of position, Buddhists believe that flesh-bound life is pain. And so why wouldn’t we, in our deluded experience of existence and with all manner of pleasurable options at our disposal, spend it in pursuit of relief? The punchline is that there is none, except to achieve freedom from the cycle of conventional existence all together. We wriggle in our skins constantly, hoping that the right job or the right relationship or the right diet will bring us relief from the pain du jour be it lonliness, poverty, ill health etcetera. All that happens once one problem is resolved is that another comes into clearer focus. And so the challenge of living with chronic physical pain can be rather instructive. Something useful happens when you realize its not going away. Some days will be better than others. On the good days, settling in to that acceptance opens up time and space to savor the loveliness of passing things. And its all passing, faster and faster.
“Life owes you nothing” Of course not. Because life is merely an interpretation.