“Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.” Plato
Last month my book club read Catfish and Mandala by author Andrew Pham. The memoir chronicles Andrew’s bicycle trip through Vietnam in search of answers to the death of his transgender sister. Throughout his journey, which is less a log of his travels and more about finding a place where he belongs, Andrew laces his family’s past (their flight from war-torn Vietnam, their time as refugees and their eventual settlement in the United States) with his present-day life and frustrations.
Pat, a long-time member of our book club chose this memoir and led our conversation. She asked a number of great questions to facilitate our discussion of the book, but the one that stuck with me had to do with individual defining moments. She asked us if we could identify the one thing that we believed made us who we are today.
We went around the table. One person said that being uprooted often as a child impacted her adult decisions. Another spoke about the death of her mother. A few others mentioned how difficult it was to leave Quebec for Toronto or Vancouver.