In F. Jameson's terms, "History is what hurts." To be alive is to live with certain needs, certain vulnerabilities, and the absolute necessity to live among others... at the expense of others. You inherit a body of meanings and practices when you take a physical body. In a sense, to be alive is to be bound to these, and to suffer for it. You get sick, get old, die.
Depending on the form of life present to you, you may have an opportunity to work with your condition intelligently. You may choose not to react on the basis of habit or the whims of your libido or whatever mechanical force may seem necessary, but instead choose not to give in to that. You may luck into instruction in Dharma, and practice. You still get sick, get old, and die, and you still have to live a life in history with other beings who may cause you hurt, but you need not suffer for it. In fact, you may well live in such a way that you ease the suffering of others.
That's how I understand it. To be alive is to be vulnerable, exposed, in a precarious fix. To be vulnerable is a necessary condition for the cultivation of wisdom, and for living a decent and respectable life.
Thanks to the help of generous sponsors (most of them from DharmaWheel), I'm doing a Vajra Armor (Dorje Kotrab) self-retreat this summer. May the merit be yours!