Dear Mum and Dad

Dear Mum and Dad,

You crossed the treacherous ocean and risked your lives – and ours - so that we could live free from terror. So that we could live in safety and have freedoms.

You gave up the best years of your lives – the prime of your youths – to work tirelessly. To provide the basic dignities of shelter and food, based on the promise of the dream of a better future for your children through your sacrifices.

I inherited the rewards of your choosing freedom. And one of the terrible prices of freedom is that fear becomes veiled as pragmatism.

There’s more to life than choosing between whether to be a doctor or a dentist. There’s also a life where we get to choose rest and play and adventure.

And I also get that the greatest “adventure” that you’ve ever had, you wouldn’t want to wish upon anyone else, ever. And that this adventure that you took, into the unknown and the unknowable, involved wide open expanses of nature, never-ending, where the landscape was disorientingly unfamiliar to you.

Unrelenting pragmatism is how we survived.

So I get that you don’t get why I seek this out. And it’s ok.

I remember when I showed you my first tent, and you looked at it blankly. I explained hiking, and you looked at me, again blankly. At some point, years later, I looked at historical footage of the refugee camps. Makeshift shelters covered in blue tarps, looking out onto the ocean, backdropped by the jungle. There was no choice involved for you…or for my two-year-old self.

There was terror interspersed with interminable waiting for the outcome of our lives, whose fate was held in the hands of others.

There’s no peacefulness in expansive natural landscapes for you.

But for me, there is.

And maybe, on a deeply subconscious level, a part of me is seeking to gain mastery over the hidden terror-filled recesses of my lineage through not just gaining competence in the outdoors, but through finding there solace, comfort and joy.

In forever love,

Your wayward daughter,


Linda at one of the pink salt lakes of the Murray Sunset National Park.

Starlings Gap, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Jim Laurie reporting from Pulao Bidong (Bidong Island) in May 1979 for ABC News (USA). Our family arrived on Pulao Bidong on April 25, 1979.


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