Lonesome Highway Syndrome

I don’t think it likely, when I present to you a very particular type of experience, that you will find yourself unable to relate.   I choose the words, “I don’t think it likely,”  very carefully, as undoubtedly, there are some who have not experienced that which I am about to describe.  For the small populous of the modern world whose geography, or travel tendencies, or mode of transport, or for an unknown reason, does not offer an opportunity to experience this phenomenon, I offer a respectful apology.

I call this experience, Lonesome Highway Syndrome.

It may have a more technical, scientific, psychologically proper term, but for my purposes, and to, hopefully, ease in its relatability and comprehension, I’m dubbing this, Lonesome Highway Syndrome.

For your consideration, I now offer my description of this phenomenon.

You are travelling on a highway in a vehicle, most likely a car, but this could certainly occur in a bus, RV, or tractor-trailer.  You are the driver of this vehicle.  The windows of the vehicle could be up, or down, catered to your preference of fresh air, or that of machined filtration.  You are travelling at an accelerated speed, but likely no more than ten miles an hour over the speed limit.  You may, however be moving quite a bit faster, based on the particular heaviness of your foot, and your specific urgency towards your destination.  Your exit on this long stretch of road, lies several hours travel from your current location, though the tires of the vehicle you are piloting, turn at one thousand rotations per minute.  Your physical engagement in the navigation process requires little, but slight shifts from your left hand, which stays close to the eleven, as cruise control manages your speed.  Your head nods slowly, and rhythmically to your choice of album, on repeat.   The fingers of your right hand peck irresponsibly at your phone, or pry open a pack of cigarettes, or pinch a chip in an open bag on the passenger seat.

Every couple of minutes, your left hand shifts, then momentarily, there is a car to your right, which is soon after, in your rear view.  A few seconds after, a vehicle zooms by on your left.  The trees, verdant, tall, plentiful, and seemingly identical, whoosh by in streaks of blurred emerald, and hazy brown.  Like a spontaneously administered eye exam, exit signs appear in the distance, come into focus, then fade, appear, come into focus, then fade, appear in the distance, come to focus, fade…..on and on, and on, and on, and on…

And then, suddenly, you snap sharply out of the zone that you were in. An exit sign that you recognize as being close to your designation, whip cracks your brain from its doldrums.

Having experienced a drastic, intense, readjustment, your mind haltingly recoils, and, during in the moment of acute, spontaneous, and intense realignment, a reveletory thought emerges.

“How the fuck did I get here?”

If you can relate to this feeling, if you can understand what it is like to travel at high speeds, blowing by exit designators, and gripping the wheel, solely focused on your out, and failing to notice signs along the way, then you have, driven, fast, on a highway, for long periods of time, at some point in your life.

It is important to note, that I use the word “lonesome” in naming this phenomenon, as this occurrence is rarely experienced when travelling extensive highway distances with a passenger, or passengers.

If you cannot relate to this type of experience, my apology already been offered above.

For those who understand this phenomenon, have you ever felt a similar sensation, while you were doing something other than driving?

Have you ever been ambulating, whether it be at work, shopping, doing chores at home, or simply moving from car to destination, when a curious sensation hits you?

This feeling washes over you mid stride, but doesn’t stop your momentum.  You continue your gait, but what you sense in your mind, feels like your thoughts have encountered an invisible force-field, wiping out every cogitation of your work tasks, grocery list, satisfaction at a clean kitchen counter, or stress over having to attend a family gathering with relatives with whom you have little in common.

Your body, reflexively, continues to propel itself forward, while a sub-function of your brain whispers, replacing the shocked, and obliterated thought processes.  It reminds you of the billions upon billions of choices involved, leading you to that particular moment in time, but it does not reassure you, or end that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.  It doesn’t remove the welling, intense panic that causes your lips to quiver.  And though the whisper seems soothing, reassuring, and pacifying, the question eventually surges through your cortex, and with its gravity, forces your corporeal forward progress to cease.

The circumstance becomes irrelevant, while the question burns.

“How the fuck did I get here?”


Humbly yours,



One thought on “Lonesome Highway Syndrome

  1. We’ve all said/thought it. More than once. Will ask it again in one form or another. It may be one of the best questions ‘in our’ planet.

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