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Life gives you ashes, but learning its lessons will turn those ashes to jewels. The hard stuff will help you become a better person.

First, what does "ashes" symbolize to native speakers?

Second, should I change "its lessons" into "their lessons" since "ashes" are plural?
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AngliholicLife gives you ashes, but learning its lessons will turn those ashes to jewels. The hard stuff will help you become a better person.

First, what does "ashes" symbolize to native speakers?

Second, should I change "its lessons" into "their lessons" since "ashes" are plural?

1. Charred remains, nothing left, dead.

2. No, because I think 'its' refers to 'life', rather than 'ashes'. It is life that has lessons to teach.
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I read the metaphors as follows:

ashes : useless, worthless things; disappointment
jewels : useful, valuable things; success

CJ
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Thanks, Philip.
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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CalifJimI read the metaphors as follows:

ashes : useless, worthless things; disappointment
jewels : useful, valuable things; success

CJ

Thanks, Jim.

What you analyze makes perfect sense to me.