Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese? ( Spencer Johnson, M.D)

Ojo Waheed Boluwatife

There is life better and fuller of a promising future than the one we live presently but, one can only get there by evolving through the instrument of a transient ladder known as “change”. There is also a place called the comfort zone. It is a dangerous haven; not advisable to be inhabited for too long. Unfortunately, many people dwell in the luxury of their comfort zones, though, not too comfortable, but they have indulged in the generosity of pretence in their day-to-day survival, wishing life would remain as it is and ignoring the beckons of change which preach nothing but a march to a more promising tomorrow. For many people, it has become safer to retreat into their own bubbles; not wanting to make a small shift from their present positions but, desperately in thirst for something better. But it helps to understand that change is in itself, a fundamental phenomenon in human life; we cannot run away from it, whether we like it or not because one of the self-evident characteristics of human being is dynamism. Human being is vulnerable to change, which is bound to come anytime, but it does help when we refuse to be taken by surprise and walk towards it ourselves. It only takes courage, hope and a small shift. However, it is not that most people do not want to muster the courage for change, they just do not know how to deal with it.
Reading the book “Who Moved My Cheese” will give you that small shift, that change of perspective that you have always needed, to see beyond the shades of layers that may be clouding the atmosphere of who you are presently and, what you are capable of becoming. The book is both metaphorical and allegorical, simultaneously. The setting of the story is a place referred to as “maze”, which at a metaphorical level of interpretation, means a place where human beings spend time looking for what they want. It can be an organisation where one works, the community one lives or the relationship in one’s life. The book is divided into three sections with each chapter full of its own relevancy to the development of the reader’s understanding, and also helps in placing the author on the threshold with which the inner mind of the reader is reached.
As the story unfolds, one is forced to reflect on one’s life in the light of the characters. At first, through the introduction of Section 1 of the book which is titled “A Gathering; Chicago” which chronicles the reunion of some former high school students whose discussion begins from a rambling collection of their memories in high school and then goes on to reach the climax where they started pouring out their experiences in life. From the series of opinion shared “they all realised that although they had gone off in different directions in life, they were experiencing similar feelings.” Everyone was trying to cope with the unexpected changes that were happening to them in recent times. It is however not comforting that most of them admitted that they did not know the best way to go about it. Now, I know many of us feel this way when we think about what our life is at the moment and what we have always dreamt they would become. Sometimes, the world and our places in it just feel dizzying and, we are filled with uncertainties. It sometimes occurs to us that life is beyond our control, no matter how we try. It often feels helpful to understand the universality of this phenomenon, it will be more than beneficial to realise that we tend to feel this way most likely because we are too afraid to embrace change, just like Michael, the narrator in the book. Michael “used to be afraid of change” until he “heard a funny little story that changed everything.”
Chapter two of the book chronicles the main story; the sojourn of four little characters who journeyed through a maze looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. The characters play roles according to the meaning of their names. Sniff and Scurry, for instance, are of diverse endowments in terms of talent but, one thing they seem is the ability to recognise how productive they would become if they establish a harmonious relationship to complement each other. Sniff is endowed with the skills of sniffing changes while scurry will never sleep on the need to act with fierce urgency at the least notice of changes. Sniff and scurry are able to detect change quickly and act on them because they were anticipating it. Therefore, when the cheese, which has been their source of livelihood, is moved from the usual station, they are not surprised as it was an anticipated change.
On the other hand, Hem and Haw are characters who rely on “their ability to think which sometimes affect their beliefs and emotions”. Hem for instance is a character who does not only resist change but also fears that it may lead to something worse. He spends a productive part of his time asking the question “who moved my cheese?” rather than finding a new one. Haw on the other hand is a complicated but interesting character on whose adventure the story revolves. Haw is such a character who at first is afraid of change but soon learn how to quickly adapt and move on when he sees that change leads to something better. He later discovers that it’s better to pursue new cheese than brood over the lost one.
Today, many of us are like Haw, afraid of what would happen if we leave our current status, our job or a relationship. We are tossed and battered by the feeling of uncertainties about what the future holds, yet if only we can try, as Haw did, we will most likely be happy at the end. Although it is normal to feel nervous about what would happen if we try to make a shift in our lives, one thing one must not afford is to think and behave like Hem, who resists change and ends up being chained to the last rung of surviving ,economic and developmental ladder.
The book does not only tell the story but also teaches how to apply it to individual life. This is evident at the end of the story: in the last chapter titled “A discussion: Later that same day” where the listeners, who wish they have listened to the story before, now begin to act with fierce urgency. Most especially, Jessica who can’t wait till the end of the discussion as she has to save her family’s dying business by leaving to “find some new cheese.”

I know if many of us are asked to make a wish, we would wish we can reach into the heart of time and bend its curve to pave way for another opportunity to rewrite our many stories. So, Like Jessica, if you really need to save something in your life by finding some new cheese, I recommend you read this book. To business-minded individual(s), and people whose relationship is on the verge of collapse, or people who feel at ease about their current status-that unexpected change do not bother them, I recommend the reading of this book. It has saved many people and I am sure it will save you as well.

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