I received a text from my daughter recently – all in caps and full of excited exclamation marks, too numerous to count. If I didn’t know better, I would think she had just gotten engaged or had her first child. But no, this joy was in response to getting out of jury duty. I was happy she was happy but a little chagrined by her lack of desire to do her civic duty and a little surprised by the amount of emotion attached to it.

Then, a few weeks later, I met a friend for coffee. My friend is a very successful lawyer whose love of her work I have always respected and admired. She picked me up with a big smile on her face. Eagerly anticipating good news, I got into the car. “I just got out of jury duty” she said. “I didn’t even come close to being impaneled.”

Now, if I am honest with myself, I will acknowledge that, sense of responsibility and gratitude to this country aside, I am also glad to be relieved of jury duty. I also dread the prospect of being trapped for days on end in some nightmare case not of my own choosing and unable to do the work I love. I don’t welcome that notice in the mail and try to delay for a time when I’m guessing it will be short. I’ve even developed my own theory about how wonderful it would be to fill the jury boxes with the “wise and retired” who have the time and experience to bring to this project…

But, despite my reservations, I don’t think I bring the level of joy that my daughter or friend did to being excused from jury duty. And it makes me think. If we are capable of such joy for such a relatively trivial matter, how much more are we capable of for the things that really count? Do we bring that level of joy to those endeavors?

A friend recently told me that she imagines I wake up singing that song from “Oklahoma”, “Oh, what a beautiful morning.” She has an overactive imagination. It’s more likely I wake up tired and cranky and overwhelmed by the day ahead. I mumble Modeh Ani and slowly rise to begin the day’s efforts. But if I looked at the day as if I had jury duty and then been released, perhaps I could bring more excitement to it. If I really focused on the time and opportunity in front of me, I would jump out of bed with greater energy and enthusiasm.

And what about the opportunity to do mitzvot, to help others and connect to the Creator? Am I joyful about those efforts? Do I eagerly welcome them? Or do I, like most American citizens, grudgingly go off to do my duty? The truth is – it depends – on my energy and focus and mood. But it shouldn’t. Because the opportunity is the same.

I was appalled by my daughter’s reaction to the release from jury duty and surprised by my friend’s. But they’ve both reminded me of something invaluable. Just as a blind man who recovers his sight is most appreciative of his eyes, someone who thought their day was going to be spent in unpleasant activities and finds herself freed from that restriction appreciates the day so much more and is more likely to use it to its fullest.

I’m not looking for my jury notices in the mail, nor do I relish my next trudge down to the courtroom – but I wouldn’t mind being released from jury duty just one more time so I can focus on the appreciation and the opportunity of the day in front of me.