“Once, long ago in a land far away, there lived four little characters who ran through a maze looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy…”
– Spencer Johnson’s story Who moved my cheese?
*you can read the whole story here
This short fable centers on the actions of four characters – each one intended to “represent the simple and the complex parts of ourselves” in the face of change.
- Meet Sniff: a mouse that sniffs out change early
- And Scurry: a mouse who scurries into action
- Then there’s Hem – who denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse
- And Haw – who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better!
Regardless of which part of ourselves we choose to use – we are all trying to find our way and succeed in changing times.
In this story, cheese acts as a metaphor for what we want in life: health, spiritual peace, job, relationship, freedom… fill in the blank.
“Each of us has our own idea of what ‘cheese’ is, and we pursue it because we believe it makes us happy…” then if we get it, we get attached to it…and may get too comfortable…
This little book is about the importance of adapting to change – and enjoying it.
Now…I’m not big on books that promise ‘quick’ fixes like living your best life in 12 easy steps, a new body in 30 days, achieving your dream by… you get the point.
But for some reason this small book caught my attention in a second-hand store a few years ago.
And although the title caught my attention…it disappeared into our bookshelf shortly after I brought it home – forgotten like a small piece of cheese going bad in the fridge (sorry, couldn’t resist…oh, there are so many cheesy puns I could use right now…)
Anyways, the book emerged again, probably about a year later, when the title caught Frank’s attention.
It was perfect timing – isn’t it always 😉
We were contemplating a big change in location – with a job* change for Frank, a school change for me.
“No,” Hem quickly responded. “I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know. Besides it’s dangerous out there” (page 41)
Hem was ‘hemmed’ in… deciding to stay with the old cheese.
However, Haw, ventured out into the unexplored parts of the maze.
After an a”maze”ing journey Haw…
“rounded a corner and found new cheese…piled high everywhere…he didn’t recognize all that he saw, some kinds of cheese were new to him” (page 69)
As some of you know, I am not a fan of change, and like Hem, I would find myself saying “I’m not interested in getting lost and making a fool of myself” expressing fear of failure, and a fear of the unknown. I was quite content and comfortable being ‘hemmed’ in, living close to family in the only part of the maze I ever knew.
But we embraced the “Haw” part of ourselves.
We decided to ‘move with the cheese and enjoy it!’
And now we are savoring the adventure and enjoying the taste of new cheese 🙂
Of course, not all change is good and not all change is bad.
But still I think this is an interesting fable given that more and more we keep hearing ‘these are changing times.’
Therefore, we need to monitor change – “and smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old” (page 74).
Soon this month, some will start to make their new year’s resolutions.
So I hope whatever you choose, big or small (…all changes are really big though, aren’t they?), that you will be able to ‘let go of the old cheese’ and ‘enjoy the new cheese’ 🙂
PS. For an update on my friend (cited in my post on emotion), visit her blog: she is definitely savouring every moment of her new adventure – and is such an inspiration 🙂
*Frank has recently found ‘new cheese’ -by joining an awesome company (they even made the news last week). He is already experiencing job satisfaction 🙂