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“Red Apple” by Patricia Cavanaugh


The apple is nature’s perfect design.  It is pleasing to the eye. Whether green, red or yellow, you can count on the round delicious taste.  It is nutritious and beautiful.  It is circular and portable.  It does not need to be refrigerated or cooked to eat.  You can eat the whole thing or cut it into pieces for bite-sized treats.  It goes well with water or wine, with cheese or bread or meat.  It is full of vitamins and antioxidants, a truly versatile, natural design.

I have been thinking about design and how people for many thousands of years have based their designs on what they found in nature.  The apple as an example of a natural design that works in many different ways through its beauty, versatility and health.

In our 3rd act, we often find ourselves wanting to simplify our lives, perhaps to connect with a more natural orientation.   How can we make our lives more reflective of nature’s inventions, like the apple?  Robert Grudin in his new book Design and Truth traces the history of design from Greek and Roman times through the Renaissance and Enlightenment.  He writes clearly about the importance of design for good or for evil; design that helps connect man to his most free and creative self, or design to circumscribe and bind people to the needs of the state, organized religion or group think.

During our second act, our time is often completely absorbed with the needs of family or the demands of our work.  Now as we find ourselves shifting focus, we can become masters of our own time.  Grudin writes about Thomas Jefferson’s very personal design of his own living space as a young man at Monticello and later in his life with his home, Poplar Forest.   Grudin says, “To undertake self-design is, first of all to re-examine, with new seriousness, the humblest and simples articles of daily life.  Can I increase the amount of water and sunlight in my garden?  Can it be arranged and planted to produce more abundantly?  How is my indoor living space organized? Are parts of the house conducive to conversation and friendship?  Do rooms or parts of rooms invite productive work or solitary meditation?  How can I increase convenience and reduce clutter?  Is there porch space and deck space enough to bring the outdoors in and the in doors out?  Does my house call to me when I’m away and welcome me when I return? “

I have been traveling lately and this last sentence really does speak to me.  I found myself looking forward to returning to my own small abode, to the familiar design of my daily routine and the welcome of the ordered mugs in my cupboard waiting for the early cup of tea and contemplation before my day begins.
In our 3rd Act we can use what Grudin goes on to say, “To practice self-design is to ask this new set of questions that speaks less to the ways of security and success than to the ways of personal fulfillment,” Good design allows and encourages the flow of energy and truth no matter in what stage of life you find yourself.

Ask your self all or some of Grudin’s simple but challenging questions.  Does a new daily life design begin to reveal itself to you?

I look forward to your comments.

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2 comments to “Red Apple” by Patricia Cavanaugh

  • Susan Blouch

    I like Grudin’s questions and appreciate your article. I recently finished 20 years as a traveling management consultant and trainer and am home a lot now. I noticed that my office space is cluttered with piles, my “conversation space” needs a refresh, and the back room is a disaster. I got 2 areas cleaned up with the help of 2 women from “Order in the House.” It’s a start. I’m in a caterpillar’s stage of metamorphosis.I welcome hearing others’ dilemmas about transforming their cocoons!

  • Karen

    I’ve been doing some deep de-cluttering, which feels really great. My pantry is now organized, labeled and everything is easy to see – makes cooking so much easier to plan and execute. I’ve also been spending the past few days completely reorganizing my clothes closet and all my jewelry. I keep my main living spaces very clean and organized, but these areas of “secret clutter” made me feel weighed down. It’s a start to feeling lighter and still very welcomed in my home.

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