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Six degrees of separation

Emma Grey

Yesterday, my daughter, her friend and I spent five hours sitting at Canberra airport, waiting.

It’s not your average way to spend a Sunday (or your most enjoyable), but we knew that their favourite YouTube celebrity, American comedian Colleen Ballinger, had performed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival the night before, and was performing in Canberra last night. She had to be flying in at some stage, but we didn’t know when. And why not try to catch a glimpse of her?

The girls dressed in costume as her alter ego, Miranda Sings, and we sat in the arrivals lounge. ‘Lounge’ is a strong word to describe the plastic seating we perched on for hours, disappointed every time another flight came in without her on it.

Meanwhile, they were stared at, photographed and even approached by the police at one point. Quietly lurking for hours in Miranda’s trademark red track pants with ‘haters back off’ printed on the backside, stripy mens’ business shirts and too much red lipstick is bound to attract attention.

Eventually we reached that exhausted point, by early afternoon, where we just wanted to go home. It was reminiscent of the transition stage of labour. Everyone had trundled down the escalator off the last flight from Melbourne for hours. Stamina was flagging.

Of course that’s exactly when it happened. We looked up and there she was, walking through the doors with her family and straight into the girls’ arms for a hug. She thanked them for coming to meet her, posed for photos, told them she’d follow them on Instagram and apologised for the wait.

Did what we did change the world? Did it make a difference?

Only in the lives of two teenage fans. But that’s okay, because sometimes we get to do fun things for the sake of it.

The day before we’d heard the wonderful news that Zoe Marshall and her family had managed to deliver 125 kilograms of rice and 125 litres of water by helicopter to the remote island in Vanuatu where Zoe was volunteering before the cyclone hit—and which she was airlifted from in an ADF rescue just over a week ago.

We’d helped the family make this happen, by doing some media stuff to spread the word to urgently raise the funds, and by finding a connection (quite miraculously and unexpectedly) who could quickly get the aid there from Australia. It felt amazing to be a small cog in the big wheel that allowed an Australian teenager to make a huge difference in the lives of desperate people.

So amazing, in fact, that I decided to create a new community on Facebook called ‘Six Degrees of Separation’. It’s a non-profit place for people to connect and make a difference by putting strangers in touch with people they know—collectively solving challenges together. I just know it’s going to be a wonderful thing to be involved in and I urge you to join the fun!

We can’t always wait for the world to deliver magic. We need to make the magic happen. Negative news bombards us almost everywhere we turn, and we can sometimes feel like victims of a sad world where awful things happen.

How much more empowering does it become when we decide to be change-makers and fairy-godmothers and risk-takers who believe it’s possible to do big things when we band together? Because it really is. I’ve seen it.

We’re all in this together.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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