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Akanna Okeke: A Poem That Changed My Life – Part 2

Akanna Okeke



Last week, I began a series of 4 articles, sharing with you the four different perspectives on life that this beautiful poem provides.  {Click here if you missed it} The first was ‘sequence’ – where we learnt that some things have to happen before others; either to teach us to appreciate what we already have, or to prepare us for what’s coming next.

This week I want to focus on ‘control’.
The happiest people in life are those who realize that there are some things that are within their control, and some that are out of their control.  And so, they focus on doing the things within their control, instead of wasting time worrying or complaining about the things that they cannot control.

First, let’s recite the poem to remind us of our reference point:

Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.

A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build.

A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing.

A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away.

A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

You cannot control who’s born and who dies, neither should you waste your time trying to.  Rather, you should invest your time in planting – starting businesses, making wise investments, sewing seeds – and uprooting what you have planted at the appropriate time; as this is well within your control.

You cannot control people, neither should you waste your time trying to hold on to friends that don’t want to be with you anymore, those who want to ‘kill’ off their relationship with you.  And you also cannot control the healing process needed to get through those times.  Rather, you should invest your time in breaking toxic relationships, and in building new friendships and relationships, reaching out to those that share common values with you. That is well within your control, and better use of your time and energy.

You really, really cannot control your laughter or weeping, neither should you try to, frankly. These things are supposed to be spontaneous and proper responses to the triggers that set them off.  It is how to live life in the moment.  When it’s funny, laugh.  When it hurts deeply, weep.  Trying to control it involves taking yourself too seriously; meanwhile no one else does.

Dancing or wailing is well within your control. It is an exaggerated response to those things that cause you to laugh or to weep. Dancing at a laughter-filled occasion, such as a wedding, could bring more laughter to everyone around there.  Wailing at a mournful occasion, such as the death of a loved one, could help those stifling their tears (taking themselves too seriously) to weep and let go of the heavy weight of the sad occasion. You should also be mindful of over-exaggeration, and control your wilful displays of emotions to fit the context.

You cannot really control how people come and go, neither should you waste your time trying to; especially with your children – as in stopping them from leaving the home when it’s that time, or trying to tell them who to marry, where to work, and how to run their adult lives.

You should know when to embrace them (when they’re still children) and when to refrain from embracing them (when they’re adults) and letting them go. You should trust that you have trained them in the way that they should go and now that they are grown and are leaving your nest, they won’t depart from that training. Embracing them or letting them go is well within your control. Be wise and know when to make the right call.

We don’t have direct control over our search either, for meaning or for more out of life. It is something that comes upon us or is stirred by happenings around us.

Where you go in life is determined by two things: your input (books you read, what you hear or listen to, TV shows you watch, etc) and your environment (your association, the people you hang out with, where you live).

The event of losing (or giving up the search), happens when we have either found what we are looking for, or situations beyond our control discourage us from searching.

What is within our control is whether we decide to keep to our current input and association, or to cast them away.  They are those forces beyond our control that either stir up in us the hunger to search for more out of life, or steer us away into giving up the search and losing out in life.

We cannot control how people feel; whether they feel torn apart (devastated) or mended (well put together). But we sure can control whether to speak to them or not, and choose carefully the words we speak –words that will build them up and not rend them apart.  That is exactly what we should invest our time doing, rather than wasting it on trying to control how people feel or in trying to make ourselves look good, to the detriment of others.  Those charades don’t last; they are a waste of time.

We cannot control war and peace as individuals, but we can certainly control whether we choose to love someone or hate them.  Love and hate are choices and they are well within our control.  We should invest our time into building loving relationships with one another.  This is what will truly make the world a better place eventually, not the lofty ideals of marching for world peace, saving the planet and stopping climate change.

We should take a very honest look at life and figure out what is within our control and what isn’t.  Once we figure these out, we will find that life is actually not as complicated as we often make it seem.  We will learn not to sweat the big stuff and focus on the little we can do everyday that actually make a difference.  We will begin to go with the flow of life and nature, instead of against it.  And this will ultimately lead to happier lives, free of depression.

That is the perspective of ‘control’ that this poem gives me.  I’ll continue next week by sharing the third perspective on life that it reveals.

So, stay tuned, and I’ll see you then!


  1. chrisyinks

    July 11, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Insightful as always. Learning to understand the difference between what’s within our control and what can only be influenced can mark the journey to a more fulfilling life.

    • Akanna Okeke

      Akanna Okeke

      July 12, 2017 at 1:10 am

      Exactly, Chrisyinks! We have to learn not to sweat the “big” stuff and focus on the little we can do per time. Leads to productivity and fulfillment!!

  2. Anon

    July 11, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you!

    • Akanna Okeke

      Akanna Okeke

      July 12, 2017 at 1:09 am

      You’re sure welcome! 🙂

  3. funmilola

    July 12, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Akanna will make a very good teacher….a lesson to learn always.

    • Akanna Okeke

      Akanna Okeke

      July 12, 2017 at 1:09 am

      Thank you Funmi! 🙂 I’m glad there’s always something to teach!

  4. Ola

    July 12, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Nice and inspiring write up! Kudos!

    • Akanna Okeke

      Akanna Okeke

      July 13, 2017 at 3:50 am

      Thanks, Ola! 🙂

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