Resilience, Truth, and Attention: Lessons from Letters for Emily

I enjoyed reading Camron Wright’s Letters for Emily. Henry’s letters teach multiple valuable lessons through engaging stories. Despite the book’s simplicity and ease, it delivers valuable, practical life advice. I recommend this book. This article addresses its messages on resilience, attention, and truth:


One powerful story describes a fallen mule that stomps down dirt such that he can stand upon it to escape from a well. Wright details, “…the mule was injured and [the farmer] decided…to bury the old mule…Each time a shovel full of dirt fell onto his back, he shook it off and stomped it into the ground beneath him.” (144-145). This signifies that the “dirt” life throws may discourage you. Tragedy or evil is almost certain to manifest at your peril, as it did for the mule. Fret not. The mule survives his fall down the well because he kicks away the dirt as it hits him. The mule prevails because he stomps the dirt beneath his hooves, rendering it useful rather than harmful. This suggests that you overcome adversity by making tools of life’s obstacles, enduring your suffering, and continually striving toward your goals. Life is challenging, but you are strong.


The story of a king and his sons delivers a second lesson. The king asked his 3 children to individually remove a large tree from the highest peak of a mountain. The king knew there were no trees atop the mountain, yet requested each of his sons to retrieve the largest available branch (in display of their fitness). The first two sons brought back large branches to impress their father, but the third son returned destitute. Wright details, “Tears welled up in the king’s eyes as he spoke softly…’You are right, my boy. There are no trees at the top…the kingdom is yours.’…” (187). Only the third son ever reached the mountain’s peak, thus found no trees. The father saw past the first two sons’ lies and granted his kingdom to the honest third. This quote indicates that you achieve virtuous pursuits in seeking the truth. Without truth, social constructs (such as a kingdom’s government or father’s trust) inevitably deteriorate into corruption. The third son earned his father’s kingdom because he was the only son that did not lie, thus demonstrating his potential for competence and righteousness in leadership.


A final line that struck me is “Turn back to your garden and enjoy the beauty before you.” (122). The “garden” symbolizes consciousness and it contents. This quote highlights that you may miss out on the valuable opportunities (that make life worthwhile) in worrying about problems. This also underscores the benefit of paying attention to the present moment. Savoring “now” reveals beauty. The past is history and the future is mystery; the present is all you ever have. Your worst thoughts may divert your focus, but great peace lies directly before you. Pay close attention.