For a moment in the grocery store this evening I forgot myself. I had finished putting away my groceries in the bagging area and was just beginning to pull my backpack from the counter when the woman next to me dropped her plastic bag. Something about the position of my body at that instant, something about my upbringing, or perhaps it was just my absent-mindedness, beckoned me to reach down and pick it up for her. And I did so, without hesitation. "Gomenasai," she said meekly, trying to race me to the floor to get it herself. But I was closer, just by the fate of time and circumstance. I picked it up and gave it to her, having realized in the process my error: I had caused her to cause me to do something on her behalf. Such is the danger of a favor. And then I apologized for my interference, saying, "Sumimasen," and realizing in that breath that it might have been better for me to carry the final burden of causation than shed myself of it.
But upon realizing that I still carry some of the burden of the experience, I think I'm entitled to a bit of liberation. Perhaps I'll create more liberating burdens more often.