I was thinking the other day about the different ways that we use the term “hot” and related terms as a metaphor. This odd train of thought left the little station in my brain because I had just come in from doing a few things outside and man, was I hot! (In the literal sense of the word, you understand.)
In English we use words expressing heat to refer to sexual desire, embarrassment, anger, for someone doing especially well and also to express popularity. Examples abound like “hot under the collar” or “hot headed” for anger, “hot for…” to express sexual interest. “That’s a hot car,” can mean popular or even desirable. When an athlete or team is doing well we often say they are “really hot.”
It turns out this is also true in lots of other languages. From German to Spanish to Hungarian to Chinese, you’ll find terms that echo our English ones and mean about the same thing. Of course other languages and cultures have uses for the term we don’t have, but I find it fascinating how common the understanding and usage of hot as a metaphor is across the borders and language and culture.
This stuck with me because we just happen to live in one of the hottest spots in North America. So if there is any group of people who ought to understand being hot, it just has to be those of us who live in Parker and on the Parker Strip! This time of year it’s hot all day and most of the night as well. (Although the early morning hours aren’t bad, at least for those of us who are acclimated to living here.)
To my mind the use of heat for intense emotions echoes the effects of physical heat. Intense emotions are almost always followed by feeling a bit let down as you cannot sustain your emotional high for long. Intense physical heat is followed by fatigue if not exhaustion, as anyone who’s worked outside much this time of year can testify.
I’ve also noticed another response to excessive heat – people get cranky. This might be part of being exhausted but, come late July and August here on the river, watch out; people are sick and tired of being hot and many are just looking for someone to vent their frustration on.
So here’s my point (if you’ve been grumbling for me to “get to the point” you might want to “cool” down a bit!). Since there’s no escape from the heat as long as I’m here, why not fight fire with fire by choosing to do and be my best regardless of what the temperature is outside?
Instead of being pushed around by the weather or anything else, I need to be responsible for myself and choose to live above my circumstances, even when my circumstances are pretty extreme this time of year.
If I’m got to be hot then why not be hot on the trail of being the person I was made to be and reaching out to others regardless of what’s happening around me. I need to stoke the fires of my commitment and keep the flame of my love for the truth burning hot – especially this time of year.
As the saying goes, “It’s better to burn out than to rust out.” So as long as I’m living in a place I’ve referred to as “Hell’s Doorstep” a time or two, I might as well get fired up, burn all summer long, and give the sun a run for its money.
# # #
Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit the website HERE.