Ann Vanino
4 min readSep 1, 2021


This has been such a wearing time. I’ve done my best to endure the change, challenge and stress of it. Some say it is a time of openings. That is hard for me to see, as I keep my head down and do my best just to survive.


One thing the pandemic has done is to plant us firmly in the present. As lockdowns became our reality, many of us were home and isolated. Offices, stores and other venues were closed. Our focus turned to making the best of the present, as the past we knew disappeared and the future could not be seen.

For those of us on the front lines of the pandemic, the experience brought us to the harsh realities of caring for the sick and dying or trying to maintain life, having lost the ability to sustain ourselves and our families. Getting through each day and keeping fear at bay took all we had.

There was not much room for dreams and visions of the future. The unknown was ever-present and demanded almost our full attention. The vistas that mattered were of one day, one week or one month into the future. What was the point of planning for a future that we could not imagine yet? The needs of each day took almost all that we had.


In all times, the best that we have is the present moment. It is the place where we are most alive. It is the only place where we can assess our reality accurately. The past is gone and the future has not arrived. During the pandemic, the present moment was not an easy place to be. If we tried to escape, it came roaring back again.

Before the pandemic, it made sense and served us to envision our futures and plan for them. We could look to our pasts and allow them to inform our futures. Sure, the future may not have become exactly what we envisioned, but we could get pretty close. We could take steps towards the future and feel some sense of control in our lives.

The pandemic has shifted our landscape in radical ways. The past no longer informs our future. The future is quite uncertain with variants, new ways to do things and not yet knowing the cumulative effects the pandemic will have on us and our society.


The unknown offers both challenges and opportunities. In a time like this, we can take advantage of both. What choice do we have? It is futile to try and construct our own reality — one that pleases us but has no relevance to our actual lives. We are where we are and are not sure of where we are going. Any perceived safety is illusory.

The unknown puts us squarely on the edge or over the boundary of our comfort zones. This lack of comfort creates challenges. We can shrink in fear or find a way to hide, but that does not get us anywhere that helps us make the best of now. Or, we can find a way to exist within the unknown and make the best of our circumstances.

The unknown is rich with opportunity. We can create our futures within the context of our present reality. Facing the unknown, rather than hiding from it, builds our strength and courage. We are better for that. We have an opportunity to find things to make our lives better, that were not visible before.


What if we shift our perspectives to see this time as one that is full of openings? They may not be familiar ones that we have grown accustomed to or that are easy to find, but they are definitely there. Openings abound in creating a new world for ourselves, without the constraints of the past. The society that used to exist is shaken. We have more freedom as our worlds transform.

What openings exist in our lives right now? Is our work what we want it to be? Has life during the pandemic changed or influenced our core values? How can we live in accordance with our new values? What opportunities exist that were not available to us before?

Openings surround us. It is a time to fully employ our imaginations as to where our openings may be. Profound change brings profound opportunity. Many openings are already here. Others are waiting in a new world just around the corner. The openings in the pandemic ask us to embrace what we have been through and will still go through and to move into the future that awaits us.

It is a bit unsettling, but I get this. There are openings around me that I have yet to see. I will set my intention to see them and make the best of them. First, I must be fully present to my current reality and acknowledge that I am free to go forward.

photo: Alexander Antropov,



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