On a bright Monday morning, Whit asked if I would write an article on gratitude for the November Jacksonville Review. My reply, “Not feeling grateful right now. Check back with me on Thursday.” I was having a difficult day. People were behaving badly. I was not high on humanity. I needed more time to grumble and to feel angry. I couldn’t possibly feel grateful until at least Thursday. I signed my e-mail, “Frank, sometimes Doc De Luca.” Admittedly, my answer even amused me.
You see, some people know me as Doc De Luca, the one who teaches and counsels on living a rich life, on holding a positive attitude and coming forth with your best. Of course one of the keys is practicing gratitude. Not today, thank you. So what happened between Monday and Thursday? I needed to take a few deep breaths and reboot.
I had to step back and notice that my feeling of resentment was much juicier, much more compelling than gratitude. Gratitude took work. Resentment was an easy ride. Resentment made me feel narrow and tight. How could I possibly be open to something as expansive as gratitude? I had to laugh. I had to choose.
I suppose we all have to choose what we are going to make important, where we are going to focus our attention. I could just as easily focus my attention on the smell of the leaves on this beautiful, balmly fall day, or on the fact that I live in a town where I feel safe and connected to others. I could focus on all the gifts I have been given: my health, my relationship, my family, my friends, my freedom. I could focus on these things. Would I? That is the choice.
Some days I don’t have to choose to focus on gratitude. Gratitude seems to choose me. I feel effortlessly in the flow of life, guided, supported and glad to be alive. But on those occasional Mondays…
If there is anything I could say as Doc De Luca it would be this: have great compassion for yourself, for your inconsistencies and for the inconsistencies of others. Life is good. We’re just not always tuned to the right channel. We have the capacity to perceive and receive the goodness of life. Open your eyes. Open your heart. Don’t wait until Thursday.
Frank De Luca, Ph.D., is a counselor and teacher who lives in Jacksonville. Find out more about him at arichlife.com or contact him at email@example.com. Photo: Ken Gregg