Thirty-plus years ago, my high school gym teachers doubled/tripled up on their course loads beyond their physical education instruction periods. They’d proctor “Health” classes and in some cases they’d be stuck lecturing the “Highway Safety” class that is forever associated with “scared straight” videos entitled “Blood on the Blacktop” or “Drunk Driving – Kill, Kill!”
I still can recall Mr. Worthington… or maybe it was Mr. Marion… waxing poetic about “highway hypnosis.” It’s a fugue state that occurs when you’re zipping down a dead-straight stretch of road, when time and space lose meaning and you either find yourself creeping well past the speed limit because you can’t tell if you’re even moving anymore or you drift over the white lane markings because you just want something to happen beyond the vanishing horizon line that lies before you.
I thought a lot about highway hypnosis as I did the two loop course down in Melbourne, Florida this morning. There are two bridge crossings per loop (so four crossings in total) but otherwise it’s kinda a flat square of dead straight stretches with only a few right turns to complete the circuit. As you run ad nauseam (sometimes quite literally) toward the horizon, you can lose sense of time, pace, distance, existence. It’s not a bad course by any means and honestly I feel like you could potentially do a really good clock time… I just couldn’t today, lost in the hypnotic stare of dead space.
Perhaps some visual aids will explain this a bit better… they always helped in highway safety too, if only to distract from the mind-numbing experience that is “high school.”