Have you ever driven somewhere and realised when you arrived that you had no recollection of the journey? Highway Hypnosis, “also known as ‘white line fever,’ is a mental state in which a person can drive a truck or other automobile great distances, responding to external events in the expected, safe and correct manner with no recollection of having consciously done so.”
In some ways, my life looks like highway hypnosis! I haven’t felt like I was asleep at the wheel. My eyes have been open, but I wonder, “Have I responded to some external events in the ‘expected, safe and correct manner with no recollection of having consciously done so?'”
We are all prone to “white line fever” and some of the tips used to avoid it for drivers are profoundly applicable to our everyday lives:
Get Enough Sleep
The word “rest” is mentioned in God’s word over 500 times. One of our 10 commandments is to ‘Honour the Sabbath.’ God made us with a daily need for sleep and yet our world tells us to do more, go faster, stretch the limits, run down our competition, outshine last year’s numbers. Resting can be perceived as weakness.
Consciously making decisions about the direction of our lives means resting with intentionality and not beginning each day exhausted and overwhelmed. Having a rested soul prohibits twists and turns from taking us into the gutter.
The mind is more alert when we are fresh. We have the ability to respond to our surroundings with competency when we leave margin and operate with a long-term approach rather than urgency from running late or falling behind. There’s nothing worse than the panic we feel from racing around trying to meet expectations, knowing we didn’t slow down to absorb the details.
I used to have a quote on my office wall that said, “YOUR lack of planning does not constitute MY emergency.” How many times do we get a late start, find ourselves falling into bad habits, doing what’s convenient, most familiar or accessible, never even stopping to analyse whether it’s a good choice or the best avenue to our destination?
Open Your Windows
It’s hard to fall asleep at the wheel of a car with hair blowing across our faces. We can smell the outdoors and hear the sounds of traffic around us with the windows down. Tuning into our surroundings keeps us engaged in the authenticiy of life, negating autopilot. I battle anxiety and a technique I use when I feel the familiar knot in my stomach is walking outside, looking around and naming the tangible – that which I can see, feel, smell, and hear. My concrete surroundings take me out of my imagination where people play tricks on me, chauferring me down a dangerous road.
We must not shut out nature, our family, our hobbies. Coasting down the freeway of life, unconscious of our surroundings, means we miss out on cuddles with kids, secrets with spouses, laughter with friends. We can fly over seemingly insignificant moments in everyday life, but this triviality is what actually makes up a life.
I don’t want to live in an unconscious trance, drifting wherever the road takes me, unaware. I’m committed to sleeping well, creating margin, and breathing deeply the fresh air around me. Let’s do it together!
“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God” (1 Peter 1:18a MSG).