Card Playing 101: As everyone probably knows, a standard 52-deck of cards has face cards, number cards, and aces. 54 cards if you count the jokers.

And an upcard is a playing card dealt face up.

So the metaphor: this virus is dealing me lots of different upcards — 52 to be exact, with occasional jokers.

In this deck, however, the upcards are emotions, thoughts and feelings.

It seems that each night while I’m sleeping, my metaphorical deck gets reshuffled and I awake to a new upcard.

Not only that, often events during my waking hours cause this deck to get reshuffled, offering a veritable flow of different upcards.

Recent examples:

Upcard: Cringe.

Catching this virus would be bad enough, but worse would be knowing that I had passed it on to anyone else.

Until I am tested, I don’t really know if that invisible bugger has set up camp in me.

I ran into a friend at the grocery store recently and was so excited to actually see someone, I practically shouted his name.


Enthusiastically pronouncing a word that starts with a letter like “B” involves a plosive speech sound. Even though we were roughly six feet apart, those droplets can travel!

Upcard: Empathy.

My mind goes to the folks who absolutely depend on a paycheck but are not working because of business closures. For them, income stops but bills continue.

Game changer.

Upcard: Anger!

This card can pop up when I witness some of our elected “leaders” squabbling, finger-pointing and scapegoating. Unable to let go of their divisive habits, even in the midst of declared national and state-wide emergencies.

Upcard: Worry and appreciation.

I think of those who work on the medical front lines — first-responders and medical professionals. This kind of work is a calling — folks who courageously continue to do their crucial — and often exhausting — work despite the risk to their health and that of their families.

Upcard: Worry and Appreciation. Again.

There are countless people — often anonymous — who continue to work in jobs that are considered “essential”. Why essential? Because we need them.

Think grocery store employees; think those who transport our goods; think law enforcement.

The list is long.

These people face a double-edged sword: Yes, they work to bring a paycheck home; and, they must wonder if they are bringing the virus home along with that paycheck.

Upcard: Heartbreak.

Many of us know people who have recently lost a loved one. Regardless of the cause, these are the grief-stricken among us.

And yet, these grieving people can’t gather with family and friends for a service; no chance to receive, first hand, hugs and condolences; no chance to see those whose hearts are breaking with theirs.

Upcard: Depression.

Most of us are learning that physical separation is more challenging than we might have expected.

The inability to connect in-person is just plain depressing for me. And I’m a guy who has claimed that I’m an introvert! So much for that.

Upcard: Spiritual path.

Being reminded, once again, that core spiritual values like love, compassion and cooperation will get us through the challenges that come our way.

Hey, this is just a glimpse at eight upcards. There are 44 others, without counting those jokers.

Keith Rodli is a retired attorney/mediator and lives in rural River Falls .