Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson is a short story centered around change. In fact, it is more of a story within a story!
When I began reading this short story, I wondered about the countless people who had told me of its brilliance. Digging into this highly recommended read, I was sure I’d finish it in a a day. However, as I began to turn the pages and absorb the lessons, I was forced to slow down my pace and let each lesson sink in and resonate with my life.
The narrative begins with a high school reunion whereby some friends get together and discuss life. One of the key characters is Michael – who begins to tell the others a story of 4 beings that lived in a maze. Hem and Haw are small people while Skip and Scurry are mice. Each day, they go and venture into the maze in search of “cheese” which satisfies them.
At one point, all the characters in the maze find a large stock of cheese which is enough to sustain them. While the mice keep their shoes tied around their necks even though they return everyday for the cheese, Hem and Haw build their lives around this area and hang their shoes up. The mice are quick to note when the cheese is running out and immediately this occurs – they move on to find more. The people however, are in shock and keep returning to the same spot daily despite the cheese running out entirely.
In the beginning they think someone moved their cheese and this was unfair. They wait for it to be put back in its place. Haw eventually realizes that he must go back out into the maze, while Hem decides to stew and sit without moving on. As Haw begins to discover the maze again, he learns many lessons which he writes on the walls.
This simple yet richly metaphorical story has so many lessons on change embedded within it. The cheese is a symbol of what we want in life. Be it money, fame, fortune or happiness. When we find a source of this desire, we begin to become attached and comfortable. No longer venturing further to seek for more. But, change does come swiftly – and very unexpectedly at times too!
I was forced to ask myself – Am I like Hem, who stayed behind and wallowed in misery? Or am I Haw – who decided to get back out and found even greater stocks of cheese?
One particular lesson which Haw drew on the wall of the maze struck a cord with me. It said: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Photo / cruxcreative.com
This phrase helped me figure out something which was plaguing me for a while. The question of which path I want to take in my career after university. It helped me realize my true dreams without the impending shroud of fear.
Give this a read and you may discover something about yourself or find a solution to a problem that you may have never expected! Dare to ask yourself – What would you do if you weren’t afraid?