One Sunday afternoon recently, I decided to unpack the book boxes. Many of them. One by one. It has been a very daunting project. Right now tons of books are scattered on the floor, each of them anxiously waiting for the sentence I hand down: shelving, return to a labelled box, or donation. How mighty the power I am holding over these books. How frightful it is to determine their fate and heartbreaking for me to part with them. Some have migrated across oceans, some travelled together with me, some accompanied me through the darkest times in my life. Who Moved My Cheese and Far From the Madding Crowd are among them. I could not help re-reading them.
My second-hand volume of Who Moved My Cheese has shown its endurance of plenty readings in the past. It is yellow, old, and rough looking. The wisdom in it ages beautifully together with its physical form.
This little book is written by Spencer Johnson. It tells a parable of four characters: Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw, searching for cheese in a maze. The author summarises it very well here:
sometimes we may act like Sniff who sniffs out change early, or Scurry who scurries into action, or Hem who denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse, or Haw who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better! Whatever parts of us we choose to use, we all share something in common: a need to find our way in the Maze and succeed in changing times.
To me, the author passes his insights to us via the notes that Ham wrote on the walls of the Maze. Many of them were for Hem, with the hope that Hem might one day would have the courage to get out of his comfort zone and start searching for a new cheese station.
The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it.
If you do not change, you can become extinct.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Smell the cheese often, so you know when it is getting old.
Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.
When you stop being afraid, you feel good!
Imagining yourself enjoying your new cheese leads you to it.
The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.
It is safer to search in the maze, than remain in a cheeseless station.
Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.
When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.
Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.
Below is the final summary written on the wall by Haw.
As Santa Claus is approaching, it is the time of the year to reflect and look ahead. What cheese do you crave for? How does your maze look? To paraphrase the verse from a dear friend of mine: what would you like to do in your wildest dream? And do just that!
Can I have a full English breakfast first? That is my wildest dream now, after getting up before 5am, walking for miles with an audiobook, cycling, reading, writing, etc. Perhaps I deserve a bit of proper bacon and sausage.