Ann Vanino
4 min readJul 7, 2021

My future is uncertain. It is as if I am standing at the entrance to a dark cave and cannot see in. Should I take a first step?


Darkness is simply the absence of light. We have made darkness into all kinds of things — evil, scary, gloomy — just because we could not see. Yes, in darkness our sight is limited, but there are other ways of seeing that we can acquire. Fear comes in so easily when our minds cannot define something. Our anticipation does not have to become fear.

What if we accepted this concept of darkness as the absence of light? We could find ourselves exploring darkness and getting to know it. We could lose our fear and distance ourselves from it. The stars shine so beautifully in the night sky. Darkness can envelop us in stillness and peace. The balance of dark and light is a beautiful thing.

Darkness is an Opening. We may have to take our first steps into a dark Opening with courage and confidence that we will be okay. A dark Opening is one where the outcome or path ahead is not certain. We go anyway, because something positive is drawing us in. We must be ready to proceed slowly and observe carefully, as we enter. Do we ever see all of what lies ahead, even in the light?


Uncertainty results from the presence of the unknown. Within the unknown, so many things are possible. It is not a given that something bad is coming. We go on treasure hunts without knowing where we will find the treasure. We are pleasantly surprised in life by things we never anticipated or knew were going to happen.

Uncertainty can strengthen us. When we face the unknown, we become strong and muster our courage, so we can proceed. When we step out of our comfort zone we grow in positive ways, as long as we do not let fear get the better of us. Each time we embrace change, we become more comfortable with uncertainty and that helps us the next time around.

If we begin to accept uncertainty as part of life (which it is!), we are better for it. Life truly is both light and dark. Dark does not have to be avoided, but rather embraced. In accepting both dark and light, we see and accept life as a whole — as it really is. In doing this, we are better prepared to deal with life. We are wiser and life flows a bit easier.


Fear weakens us. It can take over our hearts and minds, to our detriment. It may alert us to danger or feelings of discomfort, but does little beyond that. It can stop us in our tracks or send us to places we are better off avoiding. It negatively impacts our health and mental well-being. It can lead to violence or taking actions we may regret.

If we move quickly out of fear, we can use its energy to create positive outcomes. Fear is a survival mechanism. It generates a flight or fight response — tensing muscles, freezing in place or taking off. Do we really need that each time we face the unknown? We can learn how to control and dissipate fear, so we can face the unknown in our power.

To lessen the power fear holds over us, we must look it in the face and change our responses to it. Responses can range from humor, finding ways to recenter, quieting our minds, getting physical exercise to counter stress hormones and more. Instead of giving in to fear, we can move beyond it and walk into an Opening, that beckons us, centered and aware.


So, as we stand at an Opening without the ability to see into it, we can make sure that fear does not take hold. The responses that we have worked on can keep fear in check and we can move on into the Opening. Once through, we can look around and see what we could not see before. We are centered and ready for what comes.

During our lives we will encounter many Openings that are cloaked in the unknown and in mystery. We might as well be ready for them. What if we let fear keep us back from entering them? We lose by doing that. The unknown and our own uncertainties are part of life. As hard as society tries, it cannot protect us from their presence.

Inside a dark cave, you may encounter light or you may bring your own. You may love the beauty and mystery of it, because you have mastered your fear. It will be an adventure to find what this Opening is all about. You will be open without preconceptions or biases. There may very well be a treasure waiting for you that can only be found when you embrace the unknown.

I found the courage to step into an unknown future. I am ready and I am having fun. My imagination is free and all kinds of treasures await me!

photo: Samantha Lachs, pixabay.com



Ann Vanino

Writer and career/new directions coach living in the High Mojave Desert of southern California. Author of Chrysalis: Personal Transformation From The Inside Out