Monday, June 2, 2014

President's Message: In The Blink Of An Eye

By Susan Johnson-Velez

“I sit at my desk and listen
I sit and start to think
That time is such a silly thing
It passes in a blink”

Such is one verse of a poem my son recently penned for Jesuit High School’s literary magazine. Of late we have been traveling parallel paths, he and I, as we both contemplate the end of a certain memorable period in our lives and the beginning of a new chapter. To be sure, his near future is a bit more certain than mine – he will soon be graduating from high school and embarking on all the adventures Gainesville has to offer. Meanwhile, back in Tampa, I face the life of relative leisure lived by the HCBA’s immediate past president coupled with the life of an empty nester. 

Someone less adventurous than I might be apprehensive about the concurrency of these two events. Indeed, I find myself answering the rather nervously asked question, “What are you going to do with yourself next year?” with much greater frequency these past few months. And my daughter has suggested that I consider bringing a chaperone with me when I move Julian in August – apparently she thinks that, in what is sure to be my distraught state, I will drive off one of the many cliffs between Gainesville and Tampa, Thelma and Louise-style. I want all of you to rest assured that your anxiety on my behalf, though much appreciated, is nevertheless unwarranted … more on that shortly.

Before I speak more about new adventures, I must expend a few words thanking those who played such an important role in the ones that are quickly drawing to a close. I do not know exactly who it was, but many thanks to the person who fifteen years ago thought to ask me to serve as co-chair of the Gender, Ethnic and Racial Equality (now Diversity) Committee. Serving in that role is what caused me to catch the HCBA “bug,” which continues to “infect” me to this day. To all of the recent past HCBA presidents, especially John Bales, Mike Hooker, Lanse Scriven, Bill Schifino, Tom Bopp, Caroline Black, Amy Farrior, Pedro Bajo, and Bob Nader, who kept me involved in so many different ways all these years. It was their examples that inspired me to pursue this office, and even in retrospect, I couldn’t be happier that I did. To the many friends and colleagues who answered my plea to become or remain involved in the HCBA as chairs of our many sections and committees during my term at the helm ― we could not have had such a successful year without your commitment and dedication. And, to the entire HCBA staff whose tireless work throughout the Bar year made all things possible.

Many tend to focus on all the demands this office places on one’s life. But the opportunity to face those demands with the support of those above, and many more who are too numerous to list, made my term far more enjoyable than you might think possible.

Finally, and most notably, to the two most important people in my life: my children. Ten years ago, in my farewell article as editor of this publication, I described them as my daily joy and inspiration, and they continue to be today. So I must again say thank you to Catalina and Julian for all that you are and all that you do. Being your mom has been my best job and greatest adventure … so far.

So what am I going to do with myself next year?  I’m excited to say that I have absolutely no idea. Luckily, I’m not the type of person who has to know exactly what’s going to happen next. I’m generally content with following the path that lays itself out in front of me.  That approach seems to have worked well to this point. Certainly it has led to more surprises and better things than I could have ever planned. 

So, as I bid farewell to the “blink” that has been this Bar year, and open my eyes to the young adults that Cat and Julian have become, what I see are the endless possibilities that await me. And who wouldn’t be thrilled about that? Allons-y!