The Pleasure Principle
Ego is the means by which Pleasure becomes Pain. Time is the river that this all occurs in.
The five lines in the middle of the drawing, read from top-to-bottom, represent the trajectory by which PLEASURE becomes PAIN. The dashed line down the center of the drawing is the perception of an event. The hump left of the dashed line is the expectation of the event, or the means by which one must obtain said event (e.g. waiting/smoking/drinking/walking/studying/meditating/fighting/talking/etc). The hump to the right of the dashed line is the perception of reward -- pain or pleasure, as it were.
At first (1st line, next to PLEASURE), the leadup to the event is not enjoyable (below the X-axis). Think of your first time smoking, or perhaps the activation energy barrier associated with first flirting to a now-lover. However after the event (right hump, 1st line still), there is a rush of reward! Mt. Dopamine has been scaled, your brain feels rewarded. This is Good. In fact it is the definition of Good.
Soon (2nd line, next to E), you begin to feel rewarded by the precursor of the event, though the event is still pleasurable. Think about it: wanting to go to a concert, then enjoying the concert. Arranging a date that goes well. This is a euphoric state, and is prone to positive behavioral feedback. This epoch, with proper care, can maintained much longer than many suspect. Exhibit A: old married couples still in love.
As the addiction progresses (3rd line, next to G), the pleasure associated with the cue is quite intense. In fact, moreso than the event itself Spending 30 minutes putting on makeup for that one Selfie. Stressing for hours about nutritional content of food you will eat in 5 minutes. The event itself has become a slightly negative experience, actually. Afterwards, what once was reward, is now regret. Is now shame. Is now what have you.
Not long after the event becomes displeasing, the cue becomes slightly toxic as well (4th line, next to O). Maybe there is a taste of disgust in their mouth, maybe it burns your nose a little more or a little less than it used to. The small vestigial positives of the event, like that friend group that doesn't support you or a pension that you'll die before seeing, induce the brain into a bizarre trance. Work sucks? Work more. Knee hurts? Run more. Nothing in the Universe is so opaque as the workings of the Mind.
At last, there is nothing enjoyable about the whole experience whatsoever (5th line, next to PAIN). The cue - perfume, baggie, or engine - now induces anxiety. The event itself is a reminder of past failures. Paralyzed by past inaction, inaction remains paralyzed. The mind is literally a slippery slope, here it has reached the bottom. Intra-cranial arguments occur at the speed of myelin, and unilateral consensus is often won by counterproductive neuronal mafias.
There is no moral at the end of this story. No call to action or Seven Ways That You Can Escape Samsara. Though it isn't meant to be a nihilist manifesto. I felt content and happy while making this image and writing these words. Think of it as a blood test -- if the results make you angry, don't blame the piece of paper. And this piece of paper (well realistically, for you, rectangle of electronics) is just a test. A test, but more like a challenge than an assay. I would hope that this piece of paper is a test, a challenge, for you to reconsider your experience. Start with just one facet at first, and remember that all sides of the cut gem gaze into the same stone.