What does it mean to live "vibrantly"?

Written from Cinque Terre, Italy

My cursor sweeps across the screen selecting pixels, shifting them from here to there, boosting this, enhancing that. Photoshop - a powerful piece of software that allows users to create and manipulate digital pixels within an image - has been a huge part of my life for several years now. Perhaps this is where the word originated in my mind - vibrancy.

In Photoshop, vibrancy deals with how much "Pop" a colour has. It is often used synonymously with saturation - here's the difference.

Imagine that you have a bunch of oranges scattered across the floor - saturation is simply adding more oranges, increasing the number of coloured dots. Vibrancy, on the other hand, is enhancing the orange colour of each piece of fruit that isn't as orange as the others so that you see a more rich image. It's considered a "smart tool" because it allows you to enhance the image without overdoing it. It knows that to look real an image can't be too blown out in one area. It needs to be balanced so that the entirety of the image is coherent and full.

Within the digital arts circles - photographers, designers, videographers etc. - there is a stigma against saturation. It's sort of like the comic sans font for designers - everyone with some knowledge of typography knows how silly it is and makes fun of it and everyone else loves it. When it comes to saturation, we all prefer and advocate vibrancy. This magical little slider enhances only the pixels that aren't alive and full of colour so that the overall change is subtle. We still connect with the natural form of the image but it feels more alive.

Original

Original

Vibrancy - just the subtle pop we needed

Vibrancy - just the subtle pop we needed

Saturation - yikes!

Saturation - yikes!

Culture is promoting the saturation mentality of adding more to your life. If you accumulate more things - more dots - you will have a brighter life. But if you've ever edited an image, you've noticed that when you over-saturate, the image becomes blotchy, unrefined and ugly. Capitalizing on the natural form of the image is key to creating an image that doesn't feel fake or inauthentic. Similarly, our lives are often inauthentic simply by virtue of how we live. When you see someone who has accumulated a lot of material things, has a schedule that is blocked out down to the minute, and whose mind is juggling a thousand dots at once, their lives are over-saturated. They've lost the natural form of a vibrant life.

To live vibrantly, then, is to reject the ever-present whisper to add more things to our lives and instead enrich the colour that our lives already bear. To live vibrantly calls for a lot of subtle changes to how we live but the cumulative impact is a life overflowing with colour. More does not always equal better. Sometimes, the subtle shifts in the way that we live provides our life with just enough to make it vibrant.