Summer of Protest

by Penny Hunter

Remember childhood summer days, playing hard until dark? Running, through the sprinkler in the heat of the day with freshly mown grass sticking to your feet? Skin that smelled of sunshine and minds full of the new games you made up and played with friends? Voices hoarse from laughing while running in the yard and yelling “you’re it!” Dropping into bed with sleep meeting you before you pulled the crisp sheets up over your suntanned legs.

Summer. The stuff vibrant memories are made of. Most of us have defining moments from our summers past. It might be the quintessential summer song that you and your friends would sing at the top of your lungs with the car windows rolled down. It might be the summer blockbuster you piled into the theater to watch with a tub of hot popcorn on your lap. It could be a week at summer camp. A summer romance. Taking time to watch the clouds ease across the sky as though they weren’t there the rest of the year.

I wonder what we could unearth in our imaginations if we tapped into the childlike wonder of summer again. What new ideas could be birthed if we made time to play in the carefree way of a child? Might it be possible to recapture some of the joy that has been robbed from us by the unrelenting stress, chaos and pain the past two years?

A friend of mine who lived through Apartheid has said that joy is part of a potent protest. I’ve thought a lot about that these last two years. As grief has piled up to my neck, I have wondered how we keep from suffocating from it all.

As a justice-lover, an advocate and one who is determined to be an effective ally, I know my actions and my words matter. I know my privilege is inextricably woven into the fabric of my life and that awareness should move me to speak and to act and to sacrifice for others.

I wonder if simultaneously finding joy in the midst of the chaos – or while we recover from it – is also a potent protest. Ridiculous, within reach, simple joys, stacking up like the coins you saved for something special.

The joy of splitting a twin popsicle with a kid.

The joy of hearing someone you love laugh out loud.

The joy of a water balloon splashing at your feet.

The joy of playing hard, turning the music up louder, dancing in your car at the stop light and buying yourself a little bottle of bubbles at the dollar store.

The joy of seeing the deepening lines on your face and knowing they come with a story. A very good story. Your story.

The joy of taking a beat and really seeing the person across the counter from you at the coffee shop, the bakery, the doctor’s office and letting them know they matter.

The joy of offering a genuine compliment to someone who needs it and seeing how your words have power.

Friends, life is hard. Summer-scorched-earth-hard. So, play and find that the joy that flows from it is not frivolous.

May your full presence in the moments of this summer bring wonder. May you embrace joy. And may it be the elusive lifeline you’re looking for in these weary days.

This summer, may this be our protest.

Penny Hunter loves to help connect business, entertainment, and non-profit leaders to find like-minded partners. Invigorated by helping build brands and launch products in competitive environments. Her eyes are always open to helping make a change when she sees injustice. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband. They have raised two amazing men who have made their lives richer. Have two wonderful daughters-in-law and grandchild. Their home is part zoo, part foodie haven (join them for one of their open house curry nights!)