Learning from Life: 11 Lessons


This piece has not been an easy one for me to write or think about. There is much that I would like to forget and get past.

Also, I searched my motivation for this piece and concluded: It is based primarily upon the belief that life is the great classroom and we learn much from personal, everyday experience.

Earlier this year, I was in the hospital with a heart attack; now after the shock waves have subsided a bit, I have had time to reflect on all of this. Also, I am still occupied with the after effects. I am in cardiac rehab, changing certain life habits and still don’t have all my strength or heart capacity back; in multiple ways, this experience has clearly affected members of my family.

Some learning happens right away and other lessons take longer; both the doctors and EMTs said I was lucky to be alive. There was a 100 percent blockage in my major heart artery and 60 percent in another; they have a nickname for this particular attack: “the widow maker.”

Fortunately, I was at a family Thanksgiving dinner when this occurred and people acted quickly.

Sometimes, I still wonder why I am here. Perhaps there is more that I have to do, accomplish and enjoy.

Anyway, while I try to work this out, so far here are 11 things I learned and seem to have relearned again. In some way, I hope sharing this helps:

  • Life is fragile and may be over in an instant.
  • Flesh is weak and can be broken; yet, spirit fights and lives on.
  • In order to heal, you need a support system and love of others.
  • After an event like this, fears, pains and sorrows are shared by those who love you.
  • When pain enters, it is a game changer, often bringing you to your knees.
  • Enjoy this moment: it is all you have. If there is something you want to do, then do it now.
  • Why one lives and another dies is beyond our understanding.
  • Be kind and generous to others. That is what the Universe wants. Suffering shows you this.
  • We carry within the seeds of our own destruction and end.
  • Death is part of life; they are tied to one another.
  • Healing can be difficult and take a long time.

Now after reading this list, if you would like to share what you learned through personal adversity, I encourage input. God/Light willing, may you continue to be healthy, growing closer to your lasting self.

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Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler and poet is a student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. For many years, he participated in 2 Sufi mystical schools. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities. He is author of numerous articles and 9 books on Sufism and spiritual learning. For more information about the author, visit on Facebook and see numerous articles/poems, with links to books on his webpage: stewartbitkoff.com.


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