by Kristin on January 20, 2012

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

Photo by K. Tennant

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Five Minute Friday post, but I wanted to publish a post today, and five minutes is about all I’ve got! As Gypsy Mama, who hosts this whole five-minute adventure, puts it, this exercise is all about writing for “five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right, or not.” Today’s prompt is “Vivid.” Here I go!


It’s natural when you think of the word “vivid” to imagine a scene that is stark and beautiful—one that makes you draw in your breath, stop and stare. Maybe a sunset over Lake Michigan, pinks and purples shot through with vibrant orange and red, shimmering on the water, or maybe a crisp, fresh layer of white snow—a perfect blanket over pine trees, the perfect backdrop for a bright male cardinal.

I wonder, though, if vivid is less about the scene itself—the contrast and color and framing—and more about how we see it. Is something vivid because we have taken the time to pause, to really look, to see with not just our eyes but also our memories and hearts? Is it vivid because we have collected stories and experiences, and we have tried to see through the eyes of others? We’re able to take all of that history and compassion, and create new lenses for seeing what’s around us in new ways.

If that’s true—how we see, not what we see, is what makes the world around us vivid—it is within our ability to see that more of the time, and to encourage others to see with crisp, memorable clarity as well. We have a job to do.

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  • Cara @ WhimsySmitten

    So true. I am forever challenging my children to look at things through new eyes, to reframe the way we experience things to make room for beauty and grace and joy, even in the hard things… even in the dullest landscapes. Thanks for sharing over at Gypsy Mama today, glad to have found you! Be blessed today!

    Cara @

  • ed cyzewski

    We can either bring junk or beauty to our world. Great stuff!

  • Jennifer

    I have always loved the word vivid. It seems to mean how it sounds and to prompt attention. And yes, we can see vivid pain and heartbreak. We can see vivid joy and love. Or all of it. Well said, my friend.

  • Ray Hollenbach

    I have two reactions. One banal, the other semi-profound.

    Years ago, long before HD TV, I remember staring at our family’s brand new TV in absolute amazement at the sharp contrasts, vibrant colors, and yes–vivid images. I think I stayed home a month, just watching that thing. It didn’t matter what was on, I was transfixed. (cf Chris Van Alsberg’s The Wretched Stone.

    Second (since I’m talking media), I watch Joe vs the Volcano,/i> at least once a year, and I am always startled by Meg Ryan’s line, “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. … He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.” Each year I vow to stay awake as long as I can.

  • Kristin T.

    Cara, what an important part of being a parent! To do that deliberately and regularly is a wonderful gift you’re giving your children. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

    ed, it’s so true—so much is within our capacity, even though we often feel like we’re just “stuck” with what’s in front of us.

    Jennifer, you’re absolutely right about the word “vivid”—it’s so full of life. Those “v” words have a lot of that going on, between vivacious and verve and vitality. And even though we do tend to think of those words as all positive and good, part of what makes something alive is the struggle and pain, too. (Just think of childbirth, right?!?)

    Ray, thinking of you sitting in front of the TV for a month makes me laugh, but it’s also great that you were so taken with this new way of seeing. It’s a a good metaphor, really, for that “constant total amazement” Meg Ryan’s character was talking about.