“If I died, no one would notice for 3 days”

I started something new up for the pandemic, but first I need to explain why I did it:

Eleven years ago, on a Tuesday night in North-East London, I was running along small path by a big body of water when, in the middle of my torso, I started to feel sinking dread.

Why did I think this was a good idea again??

Even though I was in the city, all I could hear were a few birds and the wind in the reeds. The sun was going down. And I was starting to worry.

I was training to run my first marathon. Once a week, I had to do my “long run” — 2–3 hours — and I’d got bored of my normal route. So I’d mapped a new one out that went by a reservoir, because: nature in the city.

Except… I hadn’t thought through the reality. And now I was by a reservoir as the sun was going down, in the middle of effing nowhere, totally alone.

In London.

I’d grown up there and, while I feel pretty street-smart because of that, I also know enough to have a small fear of being totally alone at any time in the city. Yet here I was.

I picked up the pace and made it out of the deserted wetlands unscathed — but now I had another problem:

What on Google Maps had looked a normal street was actually a sidewalk next to a small highway. That was next to an even-more-deserted construction site. Now I was less worried about being murdered than I was about being hit by a car. And even then, it wasn’t the death I feared;

It was the fact that it might take three days before anyone noticed.

I was single. I lived alone. I worked freelance jobs whose deadlines were at the weekend. If I didn’t text my mum back for three days, she might start to worry. But I wasn’t sure that anyone else would.

Realizing this, I started to feel lightheaded. Part of me felt like, If no one knows where I am… do I even exist?

It sounds silly but I couldn’t shake it. So, after I got home safely, I started a practise of checking in with a friend before every long run. And carrying a small note in my pocket that said,

MY NAME IS MARSHA. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL:

then my mum’s number.

Back to 2020, and a couple of weeks ago, I started wondering what lockdown would have been like if it had hit during one of those big swathes of my life when I lived alone. Would I have that same feeling? Like I wasn’t sure if I existed?

I went into my Facebook group — “I Don’t Have My iSht Together, Either” and posted this:

**NEW THING WHILE WE’RE IN THE TEMPORARY APOCALYPSE — DAILY ROLL CALLS**
(tl;dr:* we’re starting daily roll-calls, all you have to do is respond to tell us you’re here.)

Sweet friends. iSht is BANANAS right now. And I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do about it in this group, other than have us posting our social distancing/quarantine-related iSht incidents (which — fyi — keep em coming, I’m LOVING them!).

Here’s the thing: I’ve had periods of my life where I’ve lived alone and felt like, “Wow, I could get hit by a bus and it would probably take three days for anyone to notice” — and that wasn’t even in a socially isolating pandemic! So, in this time where we’re not going to our local coffee shops or our jobs or our regular meet-ups, I want to do something which helps us connect and just recognise each other’s existence in this weird time.

And while this might not seem like it’s connected to the fun, light vibe of this group, it actually relates directly to the core of why I started it. Because, pretty much all of us feel like everyone else has their iSht together and we alone don’t. That feeling — that shame — cuts us off from other people. But then, when someone (say, ANY OF THE AWESOME PEOPLE IN HERE) publicly tells us a thing that proves they don’t have their iSht together either, it shows us that it’s ok that *we don’t. And that maybe *no one does* (which is the truth!). And this connects us in a profound way.

Which is a very long-winded way of saying, in this strange time, I want us to find an easy way to feel connected. So here’s how it’s going to work:

Every day, either I or one of our amazing iSht moderators is going to write a post that says:

“[DAY OF WEEK/DATE] ROLL-CALL: who’s here today?

And then, when you see it, if it’s the right date, you just write “Present!” or “Here!” or whatever you like (as long as it’s not rude!).

Want to write anything else in your comment? Go ahead!
Don’t? That’s fine too!

We begin tomorrow! (Mon 30th March)

Any questions? Pop them in the comments below!

Thank you so much for being here. Truly, this is my favourite place on the internet and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to share it with YOU.

You rule,

xxxx (Yes Yes) Marsha

*means “Too long; didn’t read.” Yes, I had to ask someone the first time I saw it, too!

I figured even if just three people commented, it would be meaningful to them (and to me!).

But here we were, on day one:

355 comments. And, two weeks later, it’s still going strong:

People’s messages alternately make me want to cry or hug my screen. There are subthreads all about the jigsaw puzzles being put together.

One friend comments every day with the same emoji.

Every day, somebody else gives her a different one in response.

I would never have started a daily thread like this outside of what my friend Scott calls this “______” that we’re in. But now, it’s become part of the magic.

If you’re feeling a bit like you’re not sure if you exist, or you just fancy having a place you can check in every day, come over and join us. Here’s the link:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/idhmit

(and if you’re not on Facebook, you can come and have a look anyway, and know that I have registered you in my heart).

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any thoughts about any of the above — or plan to start a similar thing in your group or on your Facebook page — let me know in the comments below. You can share this post with anyone you feel needs to hear it by clicking one of the round buttons below, or click HERE to share on Facebook.

I hope you’re doing ok. I SEE you.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS if you’d like to get more things like this, along with free email coaching on storytelling and business, AND get my epic guide for the magic bullet when it comes to telling captivating stories: Pop your details in below and you can get ALL of it when you join the Yes Yes Family. It’s FREE! And I’d love to see you in there:

Photo by Jordan Jensen on Unsplash

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field