What better way to progress from philosophy to poetry for a post than with Caprese Salad flowers? I discovered this presentation style of tomatoes one day when I had a few extra moments to play with them. Now it is a tradition with my daughters and I as to who can arrange the most bloomingly floral versions made from tomatoes, kalamatas, mozzarella, and basil – sprinkled with our herbes de provence and balsamic / olive oil drizzle. These photos are a couple we’ve made the past week.

Secret Ingredient: It is all in how you slice the tomatoes. Oh, and reduce that balsamic if you can!

Music Accompaniment: Cat Stevens

As to a thought for today to match the art of the food – I must go to a foundational quote to my identity that I sadly was reawakened to (as alluded to in a previous post). Sadly – in that I’m dismayed by just how much I had strayed from incorporating the quotation in my day to day life.

So here it is: “Love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.” – St. Exupery

Isn’t that amazing? The more time I spent thinking about every word, the more I realize just how much Exupery hit the nail on the head, and yet also filled it with rich meaning and complexities with just a single short statement.

For the sake of posterity and over indulgence (it’s a food blog after all), let’s break it down:

Process – love is a process, a verb – not a noun. Love is an action to extend, not a state to be obtained. This dovetails into my previous post discussing life and identity as verbs.

Leading – love is guiding, leading – it is traveling alongside someone hand in hand – it is not a state internal to yourself, but an action externally performed

my – this is my favorite word in the quotation – note that it is written from the perspective of my leading you, and not you leading me. Love is an action on the behalf of the other – and for them, not vice versa. Clearly love is not a possession, but selfless act. The only place the author of love enters in is via the leading, but otherwise love is about the one being lead.

back – I’m not leading you to a new you; I’m not guiding you to a place you’ve never been before, but rather simply returning you back to where you already are. Again, my role in love is simply a hand to guide, not an imposition of my definitions.

gently – while I may not be the best at this, it is a reminder that it is all about gentleness that we guide. This is where we channel the Desiderata, avoiding vexations to the spirit.

to yourself – the destination of love is oneself, specifically the oneself in the person being loved. The strength of love exists at the core of oneself. And because of that, love demands a strong identity. The stronger the identity, the core – the easier the leading is, and the easier it is to be loved. In fact, love demands a strong identity.

With such an amazing revelation for life, it is easy to see why I chose at an early age to make this a cornerstone to my identity – and why I’m so frustrated to have let the perspective slip into the subconscious, instead of the active guiding hand I want for defining who I want to be.