The word “swelter” is an interesting word to me. There is nothing about the definition of the word that I find interesting. But I have always thought of the word swelter to be more of a connotation than a definition. There is, of course, the explicit definition that is given in the Oxford English dictionary. But then, there is also the connotations of the word that I assign whenever I choose to use it in context. I default to the Oxford English dictionary whenever I would use the word swelter in an academic context. But, in terms of the creative use of “swelter”, I can decide whatever connotations that I choose to assign to the word, which may or may not be in contradiction to the dictionary definition of the word.
Today, it is a sweltering day. It is not a hot day in the sense that the temperature cannot be above 70 degrees, but it is sweltering day. Yesterday, it was a hot day. It was also a sweltering day, but it was not a sweltering day because it was a hot day. The sweltering exists irregardless of the hot-ness of the day. The perception of sweltering is dependent on the presence of the people around me. They are not sweaty — for it is not a hot day — but they are sweltering. They are sweltering because I choose to perceive them as sweltering. It is a connotation that is in direct reflection of my own life through my perceptions. I am the Jane Eyre of my world, and I choose to perceive the world around me as sweltering.
I have little idea what the word sweltering means to me. But I know that I perceive a lot of things as sweltering during the summer. I know that the word sweltering has a negative connotation, but I am unable to articulate the nature of the negativity. There is an aversion to touch. But, more than an aversion to touch, the word sweltering also connotes an aversion to presence. It is a reflection of my irritation towards the world around me, which, coincidentally is a symptom of depression, not that I believe in the existence of depression, of course. I see the world constantly sweltering around me, but it seems like a personal problem.
If sadness is the color blue, then sweltering is the color red. It is the irritation that inevitably arises from exposing sadness to the world. The world trembles around me. A red filter is draped over the lenses of my eyes. Floating shapes move irregularly across my vision. This is the world that I see when I can feel the sweltering of others. Because, when I am alone, I can only see the color blue. When I am with others, however, I can see sweltering. And, when I can see the sweltering that I caused to exist in myself, then my vision changes from blue to red. It is the sweltering of others that I see during the summer. It is the endless swelter.
The sky is the sky in the absence of me. When I perceive the sky, it is still the sky. When I perceive the sky in the presence of others, however, the sky swelters. It contorts and warps from the invisible heat emanated by the soundless laughter of others. The sky no longer has a neutral and shapeless presence. Instead, it becomes oppressive, sharing in the laughter of others, bending to sneer at the loneliness of the struggle of the soul in solitude. It is no longer the blue sky that has existed since the beginning of the Earth; it becomes the bloody sky, a contemporary creation when the individual has come to terms with the formless sweltering of the world among others.
The sweltering evokes a response. I become livid. Whenever I encounter the sweltering, I become livid. And, whenever I become livid, the only natural conclusion is sadness. The only cure to livid-ness is sadness. Seeing as though I am sad quite often, I do not get livid that often, until I perceive the sweltering, of course. When I see the sweltering of the world, I can only hide from others until the sadness settles in. Sadness, in the face of sweltering, is a source of comfort. Sadness is always a source of comfort, of course, but it becomes grace itself when encountering the sweltering of the world. The summer world has made me livid, and it is only sadness relinquishes me from the effects of the sweltering.