Failure: Life’s Ultimate Tour Guide

We meet Alec Wilkinson, a writer for The New Yorker, outside of Central Park on a brisk yet sunny Tuesday morning. His persona as a self-described “rock and roll musician” is Alec talkingreflected in his Neil Young vibe and casual, yet surprisingly pulled together, layered outfit. Ambling along the park’s paths, Mr. Wilkinson suddenly detours and climbs up a large, rather flat rock upon which we plop our belongings (and ourselves) and launch into a rather unexpected conversation.

With previous magazine experts we have met, discussion topics mostly revolved around their work with the magazine and their career path. However, we listen to Alec Wilkinson begin a philosophical discussion on failure, and it is, admittedly, a strange turn of events. While the conversation eventually becomes geared more towards talk of his career and field, his philosophical opening very intriguingly provides a glimpse of life into the journalism field (and beyond) that many other people we have met with have neglected to spend much time elaborating upon: their emotional and mental trials.

Alec with students“Failure compels movement, compels response,” Alec Wilkinson says while addressing us on the rock. He continues, saying “falling short leads one in another direction”. I thought this was interesting, because it is often stated that we learn from our mistakes, but no one really elaborates on how we use them to our advantage, besides learning to never repeat them again. But Mr. Wilkinson made an excellent point in this respect. Why would we continue along on the same path when it has failed us? Failure, while closing one door, opens another that has many more possibilities, successes, and failures along the hallway of life. As we enter our final weeks of the school year, I hope that our class can channel Alec Wilkinson’s message as we fail, succeed, and continue to persevere along our journey of creating Hops and Vine.

— Anna Linthicum

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