Love is Redemptive: Johnathan

“Because sometimes you don’t see the love that’s in front of you… that you’ve always had.”

Relationship Status: Single

What is love?

To me it’s this idea of fulfillment. Having read some of the stuff on your site, I read a lot of the posts and realized that everybody at the end of the day had this similar message: Everybody has a similar thing they’re looking for to define what love is. And for me it’s been sort of an amalgamation of everything that they’ve talked about.

I know there are people who talk about searching for themselves and getting to understand themselves better. And then there are people who talk about duty to their husbands, duty to their partners, and just finding happiness. At the end of the day, everything just has to do with finding a way to fulfill yourself… understanding what your purpose in life is.

A lot of people they have to go through a lot of things in order to get to that point where they understand what their purpose is. And for a lot of people it’ll be heartbreak or it’s finding the “right person” or it’s going out and exploring and doing different things and then meeting people and finding out that there are certain types of people that are not for them. And the end of the day it is it’s a very explorative process and everything that you do where love is concerned is finding out what your purpose is and what you need to do in your own life in order to be fulfilled. 

Love for me has always been about finding purpose and using that to convey that message also to other people.

So what brings you fulfillment, brings you purpose?

A lot of the reason why I got into food was because of my grandmother.

One really vivid memory that I have of her was when, she would visit Toronto during the summers, she was picking chilies in her backyard and she would dry them out in wicker baskets, then she’d bring them in and make sauces out of them. And with a lot of other produce that we had growing in our backyard, she would spend time in the kitchen turning them into something. So she would make dumplings and then when my dad got home from work we would all eat together, the dumplings that she made from scratch.

So having seen that, was a big source of inspiration for me getting into food. Having that shared experience—from something that you would have to invest a lot of effort into and then turning it into an experience you can share with your family, making it a meaningful connection—was in my own way very fulfilling. So having found that purpose, that’s what I want to do for other people, that’s why I do food in general, that’s why I’m a chef.

I want to be able to convey that experience to other people in general and have people create memories and unique experiences.

What’s an example when you felt love, either given or received?

In August I went to my cousin’s wedding in B.C. and it was only a couple of days, but I convinced myself that I needed to spend that time with my family. So whenever I wasn’t doing anything with my cousin, I would spend the mornings with my grandmother in her kitchen. And this whole idea of just experiencing that kind of love and purpose, I don’t think I’ve ever really felt that to the degree where I did in the mornings when my grandmother was explaining to me things that she would do.

So for her to sit down with me in the mornings and write out recipes with me and show me how she does certain things and show me the process in which a lot of the things that she does really matters, then I wouldn’t really have that sort of sense of purpose that I do now. 

And so with her opening up to me and sharing those things with me—in the hopes that I’m going to one day be able to do those things for the rest of my family when she’s gone and I’m gonna be the last person to do it, until say, my kids, because I wan’t to pass these things down—was this really deep love and connection that I’ve rarely ever experienced from anything else.

I think you’re very self aware of how you find fulfillment in your purpose. Do you find it’s easier getting into relationships or maintaining relationships because you’re very aware of yourself, your connections your emotions?

That’s a bit more difficult to say because as much as you can understand yourself it’s very very hard to understand people. A year back, I came out of a relationship that was a nine year strong relationship and this other person ended it. It was very sudden thing and a lot of the reasons that she gave me were reasons that I thought were not valid because I could point out evidence to the contrary for a lot of things that she was saying.

But, it got to the point where I had an understanding that no matter what I did, it would just kind of devolve and I didn’t want to try to force ourselves into the next step knowing that this might be an issue in the future. So even though I have that understanding for myself—of how I can provide that connection to people and how I can love people and have that purpose in my life—I can never really sort of fully grasp that in other people because everybody has a different concept of what love is.

Was this relationship between love and purpose always your view of love growing up?

No, not at all. As with most people that grew up in my generation and I had this lofty interpretation of what love is supposed to be. We grew up in a generation where we’re always saturated by media—online videos and movies and TV shows—so you have this false idea of what [love is] meant to be and you sort of buy into it just because that’s what you see all around you. And you always think it’s suppose to be something that’s exciting, something that’s new, and you learn something every day, and you’re supposed to be absolutely in love with your partner every second of every day, that you’ll never have any bad moments or anything like that.

So I was very harshly disabused of that notion about a year back when things ended with my partner. And so after that. I went on this proverbial journey of self discovery and it was less of a journey of self discovery as it was really just being more aware of the relationships that I already have with other people.

The best way of illustrating this is the last time I was in B.C. visiting my grandmother was with my ex-partner. And my grandmother’s not young, but the last time I was in B.C., my girlfriend and I were more concerned about doing things together and going out and exploring Victoria and Vancouver.

So the next time I went to B .C., which is during the wedding, it was very clear to me that  the last time I was there I paid absolutely no attention to my family. And that this is something that I needed to do and it was something that was important to me because my grandmother specifically is a wellspring of knowledge—whether it’s food related, the history of our family, or just life in general. To not take advantage of that and to let my lack of understanding of things overshadow those connections that I could have taken advantage of earlier to know more, would have been the biggest failing in relationships in my own personal life.

So, if we’re talking about whether or not this is sort of a recurrent understanding of what love has always been a thing like it really hasn’t for me because this is something that was a newer development. Which is why I’ve been spending time with friends and family whenever I can. Because sometimes you don’t see the love that’s in front of you… that you’ve always had.

Love is…? Fill in the blank with one word or two.

Love is redemptive. It’s redemptive in that when you finally understand that love gives you purpose, it redeems you in a way that makes you content with the way you live your life the kind of person that you are to the point where you don’t need to constantly go soul searching. You don’t need to go undertake journeys that will improve you as a person, as nice as that would be. You don’t need to constantly find a partner that’s better than the last partner that you were with. You don’t need to constantly beat yourself up over things that you could have done differently because you’re going to realize with understanding your purpose in love in general, you have everything that you need to be a good person, to live a good life, and to foster good relationships with people, and everything is right in front of you.

*Photos provided by Johnathan

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