It is not too far off to say that the story of human life, your life, is the story of various attachments. What attachments? Attachments to sensations. What we call “the human body” (a somewhat arbitrary distinction) is principally a vehicle for the sense organs and other bodily systems – blood circulation, digestion, the nervous system, etc. The function of the senses is to apprehend sense objects, e.g. the eye seeks out visible light, the ear seeks sounds, the tongue tastes. . . But once these sense objects are apprehended, YOU choose what to do with the information (more on that shortly).
Generally, people seek out pleasant and enjoyable sensations and shun painful or unpleasant ones. This is the “story of human life” I mentioned. Actually, you might call it the “story of animal life” as well (the verdict is out on plants and rocks). You taste raspberry sorbet and react favorably. In your subconscious, you make a note to repeat the experience in the future. Two days or two weeks down the road you encounter the opportunity, and you do so. Likewise, you may have a whole list of things to avoid so as to not experience pain.
But alas, our senses are clever and crafty servants. They work for you as long as you are able to remain in control. If you are unable, they gladly take over! A strong desire or preference, built up over time and only broken with difficulty is an attachment.
There is nothing wrong with “choosing your own adventure,” with being alive, experiencing the richness of life. But to foster attachments can really cause some problems. When you don’t get something that you want, or when you get something you don’t want, you become upset and agitated. You can easily see the whole range of implications in your own life or in the lives of people you know. Attachments can be as benign as a predilection for the color green, or as hellish as an opiate addiction.