Who Moved My Cheese?
Dr. Spencer Johnson
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.
Two were mice named "Sniff" and "Scurry" and two were Littlepeople--beings who were as small as mice but who looked and acted a lot like people today. Their names were "Hem" and "Haw."
Due to their small size, it would be easy not to notice what the four of them were doing. But if you looked closely enough, you could discover the most amazing things!
Every day the mice and the Littlepeople spent time in the Maze looking for their own special cheese.
The mice, Sniff and Scurry, possessing simple brains and good instincts, searched for the hard nibbling cheese they liked, as mice often do.
The two Littlepeople, Hem and Haw, used their complex brains, filled with many beliefs and emotions, to search for a very different kind of Cheese--with a capital C--which they believed would make them feel happy and successful. As different as the mice and Littlepeople were, they shared something in common: every morning, they each put on their jogging suits and running shoes, left their little homes, and raced out into the Maze looking for their favorite cheese.
The Maze was a labyrinth of corridors and chambers, some containing delicious cheese. But there were also dark corners and blind alleys leading nowhere. It was an easy place for anyone to get lost.
However, for those who found their way, the Maze held secrets that let them enjoy a better life.
The mice, Sniff and Scurry, used the simple trial-and-error method of finding cheese. They ran down one corridor, and if it proved empty, they turned and ran down another. They remembered the corridors that held no cheese and quickly went into new areas.
Sniff would smell out the general direction of the cheese, using his great nose, and Scurry would race ahead. They got lost, as you might expect, went off in the wrong direction and often bumped into walls. But after a while, they found their way.
Like the mice, the two Littlepeople, Hem and Haw, also used their ability to think and learn from their past experiences. However, they relied on their complex brains to develop more sophisticated methods of finding Cheese.
Sometimes they did well, but at other times their powerful human beliefs and emotions took over and clouded the way they looked at things. It made life in the Maze more complicated and challenging.
Nonetheless, Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw all discovered, in their own way, what they were looking for. They each found their own kind of cheese one day at the end of one of the corridors in Cheese Station C.
Every morning after that, the mice and the Littlepeople dressed in their running gear and headed over to Cheese Station C. It wasn't long before they each established their own routine.
Sniff and Scurry continued to wake early every day and race through the Maze, always following the same route.
When they arrived at their destination, the mice took off their running shoes, tied them together and hung them around their necks--so they could get to them quickly whenever they needed them again. Then they enjoyed the cheese.
In the beginning Hem and Haw also raced toward Cheese Station C every morning to enjoy the tasty new morsels that awaited them.
But after a while, a different routine set in for the Littlepeople.
Hem and Haw awoke each day a little later, dressed a little slower, and walked to Cheese Station C. After all, they knew where the Cheese was now and how to get there.
They had no idea where the Cheese came from, or who put it there. They just assumed it would be there.
As soon as Hem and Haw arrived at Cheese Station C each morning, they settled in and made themselves at home. They hung up their jogging suits, put away their running shoes and put on their slippers. They were becoming very comfortable now that they had found the Cheese.
"This is great," Hem said. "There's enough Cheese here to last us forever." The Littlepeople felt happy and successful, and thought they were now secure.
It wasn't long before Hem and Haw regarded the Cheese they found at Cheese Station C as their cheese. It was such a large store of Cheese that they eventually moved their homes to be closer to it, and built a social life around it.
To make themselves feel more at home, Hem and Haw decorated the walls with sayings and even drew pictures of Cheese around them which made them smile. One read:
Having Cheese Makes You Happy.
Sometimes Hem and Haw would take their friends by to see their pile of Cheese at Cheese Station C, and point to it with pride, saying, "Pretty nice Cheese, huh?" Sometimes they shared it with their friends and sometimes they didn't.
"We deserve this Cheese," Hem said. "We certainly had to work long and hard enough to find it." He picked up a nice fresh piece and ate it.
Afterward, Hem fell asleep, as he often did.
Every night the Littlepeople would waddle home, full of Cheese, and every morning they would confidently return for more.
This went on for quite some time.
After a while Hem's and Haw's confidence grew into the arrogance of success. Soon they became so comfortable they didn't even notice what was happening.
As time went on, Sniff and Scurry continued their routine. They arrived early each morning and sniffed and scratched and scurried around Cheese Station C, inspecting the area to see if there had been any changes from the day before. Then they would sit down to nibble on the cheese.
One morning they arrived at Cheese Station C and discovered there was no cheese.
They weren't surprised. Since Sniff and Scurry had noticed the supply of cheese had been getting smaller every day, they were prepared for the inevitable and knew instinctively what to do.
They looked at each other, removed the running shoes they had tied together and hung conveniently around their necks, put them on their feet and laced them up.
The mice did not overanalyze things.
To the mice, the problem and the answer were both simple. The situation at Cheese Station C had changed. So, Sniff and Scurry decided to change.
They both looked out into the Maze. Then Sniff lifted his nose, sniffed, and nodded to Scurry, who took off running through the Maze, while Sniff followed as fast as he could.
They were quickly off in search of New Cheese.
Later that same day, Hem and Haw arrived at Cheese Station C. They had not been paying attention to the small changes that had been taking place each day, so they took it for granted their Cheese would be there.
They were unprepared for what they found.
"What! No Cheese?" Hem yelled. He continued yelling, "No Cheese? No Cheese?" as though if he shouted loud enough, someone would put it back.
"Who moved my Cheese?" he hollered.
Finally, he put his hands on his hips, his face turned red, and he screamed at the top of his voice, "It's not fair!"
Haw just shook his head in disbelief. He, too, had counted on finding Cheese at Cheese Station C. He stood there for a long time, frozen with shock. He was just not ready for this. Hem was yelling something, but Haw didn't want to hear it. He didn't want to deal with what was facing him, so he just tuned everything out.
The Littlepeople's behavior was not very attractive or productive, but it was understandable. Finding Cheese wasn't easy, and it meant a great deal more to the Littlepeople than just having enough of it to eat every day.
Finding Cheese was the Littlepeople's way of getting what they thought they needed to be happy. They had their own ideas of what Cheese meant to them, depending on their taste.
For some, finding Cheese was having material things. For others it was enjoying good health or developing a spiritual sense of well-being.
For Haw, Cheese just meant feeling safe, having a loving family someday and living in a cozy cottage on Cheddar Lane.
To Hem, Cheese was becoming a Big Cheese in charge of others and owning a big house atop Camembert Hill.
Because Cheese was important to them, the two Littlepeople spent a long time trying to decide what to do. All they could think of was to keep looking around Cheeseless Station C to see if the Cheese was really gone.
While Sniff and Scurry had quickly moved on, Hem and Haw continued to hem and haw.
They ranted and raved at the injustice of it all. Haw started to get depressed. What would happen if the Cheese wasn't there tomorrow? He had made future plans based on this Cheese.
The Littlepeople couldn't believe it. How could this have happened? No one had warned them. It wasn't right. It was not the way things were supposed to be.
Hem and Haw went home that night hungry and discouraged. But before they left, Haw wrote on the wall:
The More Important Your Cheese Is to You
The More You Want to Hold on to It.
The next day Hem and Haw left their homes, and returned to Cheese Station C again, where they still expected, somehow, to find their Cheese.
The situation hadn't changed; the Cheese was no longer there. The Littlepeople didn't know what to do. Hem and Haw just stood there, immobilized like two statues.
Haw shut his eyes as tight as he could and put his hands over his ears. He just wanted to block everything out. He didn't want to know the Cheese supply had gradually been getting smaller. He believed it had been moved all of a sudden.
Hem analyzed the situation over and over, and eventually his complicated brain with its huge belief system took hold. "Why did they do this to me?" he demanded. "What's really going on here?"
Finally, Haw opened his eyes, looked around and said, "By the way, where are Sniff and Scurry? Do you think they know something we don't?"
Hem scoffed, "What would they know?"
Hem continued, "They're just mice. They just respond to what happens. We're Littlepeople. We're smarter than mice. We should be able to figure this out."
"I know we're smarter," Haw said, "but we don't seem to be acting smarter at the moment. Things are changing around here, Hem. Maybe we need to change and do things differently."
"Why should we change?" Hem asked. "We're Littlepeople. We're special. This sort of thing should not happen to us. Or if it does, we should at least get some benefits."
"Why should we get benefits?" Haw asked.
"Because we're entitled," Hem claimed.
"Entitled to what?" Haw wanted to know.
"We're entitled to our Cheese."
"Why?" Haw asked.
"Because, we didn't cause this problem," Hem said. Somebody else did this and we should get something out of it."
Haw suggested, "Maybe we should simply stop analyzing the situation so much and go find some New Cheese?"
"Oh no," Hem argued. "I'm going to get to the bottom of this."
While Hem and Haw were still trying to decide what to do. Sniff and Scurry were already well on their way. They went farther into the Maze, up and down corridors, looking for cheese in every Cheese Station they could find.
They didn't think of anything else but finding New Cheese.
They didn't find any for some time until they finally went into an area of the Maze where they had never been before: Cheese Station N.
They squealed with delight. They found what they had been looking for: a great supply of New Cheese.
They could hardly believe their eyes. It was the biggest store of cheese the mice had ever seen.
In the meantime, Hem and Haw were still back in Cheese Station C evaluating their situation. They were now suffering from the effects of having no Cheese. They were becoming frustrated and angry and were blaming each other for the situation they were in.
Now and then Haw thought about his mice friends. Sniff and Scurry, and wondered if they had found any cheese yet. He believed they might be having a hard time, as running through the Maze usually involved some uncertainty. But he also knew that it was likely to only last for a while.
Sometimes, Haw would imagine Sniff and Scurry finding New Cheese and enjoying it. He thought about how good it would be for him to be out on an adventure in the Maze, and to find fresh New Cheese. He could almost taste it.
The more clearly Haw saw the image of himself finding and enjoying the New Cheese, the more he saw himself leaving Cheese Station C.
"Let's go!" he exclaimed, all of a sudden.
"No," Hem quickly responded. "I like it here. It's comfortable. It's what I know. Besides, it's dangerous out there."
"No it isn't" Haw argued. "We've run through many parts of the Maze before, and we can do it again."
"I'm getting too old for that," Hem said. "And I'm afraid I'm not interested in getting lost and making a fool of myself. Are you?"
With that, Haw's fear of failing returned and his hope of finding New Cheese faded.
So every day, the Littlepeople continued to do what they had done before. They went to Cheese Station C, found no Cheese, and returned home, carrying their worries and frustrations with them.
They tried to deny what was happening, but found it harder to get to sleep, had less energy the next day, and were becoming irritable.
Their homes were not the nurturing places they once were. The Littlepeople had difficulty sleeping and were having nightmares about not finding any Cheese.
But Hem and Haw still returned to Cheese Station C and waited there every day.
Hem said, "You know, if we just work harder we'll find that nothing has really changed that much. The Cheese is probably nearby. Maybe they just hid it behind the wall."
The next day, Hem and Haw returned with tools. Hem held the chisel, while Haw banged on the hammer until they made a hole in the wall of Cheese Station C. They peered inside but found no Cheese.
They were disappointed, but believed they could solve the problem. So they started earlier, stayed longer, and worked harder. But after a while, all they had was a large hole in the wall.
Haw was beginning to realize the difference between activity and productivity.
"Maybe," Hem said, "we should just sit here and see what happens. Sooner or later they have to put the Cheese back."
Haw wanted to believe that. So each day he went home to rest and returned reluctantly with Hem to Cheese Station C. But Cheese never reappeared.
By now the Littlepeople were growing weak from hunger and stress. Haw was getting tired of just waiting for their situation to improve. He began to see that the longer they stayed in their Cheeseless situation, the worse off they would be.
Haw knew they were losing their edge.
Finally, one day Haw began laughing at himself. "Haw, haw, look at us. We keep doing the same things over and over again and wonder why things don't get better. If this wasn't so ridiculous, it would be even funnier."
Haw did not like the idea of having to run through the Maze again, because he knew he would get lost and have no idea where he would find any Cheese. But he had to laugh at his folly when he saw what his fear was doing to him.
He asked Hem, "Where did we put our running shoes?" It took a long time to find them, because they had put everything away when they found their Cheese at Cheese Station C, thinking they wouldn't be needing them anymore.
As Hem saw his friend getting into his running gear, he said, "You're not really going out into the Maze again, are you? Why don't you just wait here with me until they put the Cheese back?"
"Because, you just don't get it," Haw said. "I didn't want to see it either, but now I realize they're never going to put yesterday's Cheese back. It's time to find New Cheese."
Hem argued, "But what if there is no Cheese out there? Or even if there is, what if you don't find it?"
"I don't know," Haw said. He had asked himself those same questions too many times and felt the fears again that kept him where he was.
He asked himself, "Where am I more likely to find Cheese--here or in the Maze?"
He painted a picture in his mind. He saw himself venturing out into the Maze with a smile on his face.
While this picture surprised him, it made him feel good. He saw himself getting lost now and then in the Maze, but felt confident he would eventually find New Cheese out there and all the good things that came with it. He gathered his courage.
Then he used his imagination to paint the most believable picture he could--with the most realistic details--of him finding and enjoying the taste of New Cheese.
He saw himself eating Swiss cheese with holes in it, bright orange Cheddar and American cheeses, Italian Mozzarella and wonderfully soft French Camembert Cheese, and....
Then he heard Hem say something and realized they were still at Cheese Station C.
Haw said, "Sometimes, Hem, things change and they are never the same again. This looks like one of those times. That's life! Life moves on. And so should we."
Haw looked at his emaciated companion and tried to talk sense to him, but Hem's fear had turned into anger and he wouldn't listen.
Haw didn't mean to be rude to his friend, but he had to laugh at how silly they both looked.
As Haw prepared to leave, he started to feel more alive, knowing that he was finally able to laugh at himself, let go and move on.
Haw laughed and announced, "It's ... Maze ... time!"
Hem didn't laugh and he didn't respond.
Haw picked up a small, sharp rock and wrote a serious thought on the wall for Hem to think about. As was his custom, Haw even drew a picture of cheese around it, hoping it would help Hem to smile, lighten up, and go after the New Cheese. But Hem didn't want to see it.
If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct.
Then, Haw stuck his head out and peered anxiously into the Maze. He thought about how he'd gotten himself into this cheeseless situation.
He had believed that there may not be any Cheese in the Maze, or he may not find it. Such fearful beliefs were immobilizing and killing him.
Haw smiled. He knew Hem was wondering, "Who moved my cheese?" but Haw was wondering, "Why didn't I get up and move with the Cheese, sooner?"
As he started out into the Maze, Haw looked back to where he had come from and felt its comfort. He could feel himself being drawn back into familiar territory--even though he hadn't found Cheese here for some time.
Haw became more anxious and wondered if he really wanted to go out into the Maze. He wrote a saying on the wall ahead of him and stared at it for some time:
What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?
He thought about it.
He knew sometimes some fear can be good. When you are afraid things are going to get worse if you don't do something, it can prompt you into action. But it is not good when you are so afraid that it keeps you from doing anything.
He looked to his right, to the part of the Maze where he had never been, and felt the fear.
Then, he took a deep breath, turned right into the Maze, and jogged slowly, into the unknown.
As he tried to find his way, Haw worried, at first, that he might have waited too long in Cheese Station C. He hadn't had any Cheese for so long that he was now weak. It took him longer and it was more painful than usual to get through the Maze.
He decided that if he ever got the chance again, he would get out of his comfort zone and adapt to change sooner. It would make things easier.
Then, Haw smiled a weak smile as he thought, "Better late than never."
During the next several days, Haw found a little Cheese here and there, but nothing that lasted very long. He had hoped to find enough Cheese to take some back to Hem and encourage him to come out into the Maze.
But Haw didn't feel confident enough yet. He had to admit he found it confusing in the Maze. Things seemed to have changed since the last time he was out here.
Just when he thought he was getting ahead, he would get lost in the corridors. It seemed his progress was two steps forward and one step backward. It was a challenge, but he had to admit that being back in the Maze, hunting for Cheese, wasn't nearly as bad as he feared it might be.
As time went on, he began to wonder if it was realistic for him to expect to find New Cheese. He wondered if he had bitten off more than he could chew. Then he laughed, realizing that he had nothing to chew on at that moment.
Whenever he started to get discouraged, he reminded himself that what he was doing, as uncomfortable as it was at the moment, was in reality much better than staying in the Cheeseless situation. He was taking control, rather than simply letting things happen to him.
Then he reminded himself, if Sniff and Scurry could move on, so could he!
Later, as Haw looked back on things, he realized that the Cheese at Cheese Station C had not just disappeared overnight, as he had once believed. The amount of Cheese that had been there toward the end had been getting smaller, and what was left had grown old. It didn't taste as good.
Mold may even have begun to grow on the Old Cheese, although he hadn't noticed it. He had to admit, however, that if he had wanted to, he probably could have seen what was coming. But he didn't.
Haw now realized that the change probably would not have taken him by surprise if he had been watching what was happening all along and if he had anticipated change. Maybe that's what Sniff and Scurry had been doing.
He decided he would stay more alert from now on. He would expect change to happen and look for it. He would trust his basic instincts to sense when change was going to occur and be ready to adapt to it.
He stopped for a rest and wrote on the wall of the Maze:
Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old.
Sometime later, after not finding Cheese for what seemed like a long time, Haw finally came across a huge Cheese Station, which looked promising. When he went inside, however, he was most disappointed to discover that the Cheese Station was empty.
"This empty feeling has happened to me too often," he thought. He felt like giving up.
Haw was losing his physical strength. He knew he was lost and was afraid he would not survive. He thought about turning around and heading back to Cheese Station C. At least, if he made it back, and Hem was still there, Haw wouldn't be alone. Then he asked himself the same question again, "What would I do if I weren't afraid?"
Haw thought he was past his fear, but he was afraid more often than he liked to admit, even to himself. He wasn't always sure what he was afraid of, but, in his weakened condition, he knew now he was simply fearful of going on alone. Haw didn't know it, but he was running behind because he was still weighed down by fearful beliefs.
Haw wondered if Hem had moved on, or if he was still paralyzed by his own fears. Then, Haw remembered the times when he had felt his best in the Maze. It was when he was moving along.
He wrote on the wall, knowing it was as much a reminder to himself as it was a marking for his friend Hem, hopefully, to follow:
Movement in a New Direction Helps You Find New Cheese.
Haw looked down the dark passageway and was aware of his fear. What lay ahead? Was it empty? Or worse, were there dangers lurking? He began to imagine all kinds of frightening things that could happen to him. He was scaring himself to death.
Then he laughed at himself. He realized his fears were making things worse. So he did what he would do if he weren't afraid. He moved in a new direction.
As he started running down the dark corridor he began to smile. Haw didn't realize it yet, but he was discovering what nourished his soul. He was letting go and trusting what lay ahead for him, even though he did not know exactly what it was.
To his surprise, Haw started to enjoy himself more and more. "Why do I feel so good?" he wondered. "I don't have any Cheese and I don't know where I am going."
Before long, he knew why he felt good.
He stopped to write again on the wall:
When You Stop Being Afraid, You Feel Good!
Haw realized he had been held captive by his own fear. Moving in a new direction had freed him.
Now he felt the cool breeze that was blowing in this part of the Maze and it was refreshing. He took in some deep breaths and felt invigorated by the movement. Once he had gotten past his fear, it turned out to be more enjoyable than he once believed it could be.
Haw hadn't felt this way for a long time. He had almost forgotten how much fun it was to go for it.
To make things even better, Haw started to paint a picture in his mind again. He saw himself in great realistic detail, sitting in the middle of a pile of all his favorite cheeses--from Cheddar to Brie! He saw himself eating the many cheeses he liked, and he enjoyed what he saw. Then he imagined how much he would enjoy all their great tastes.
The more clearly he saw the image of himself enjoying New Cheese, the more real and believable it became. He could sense that he was going to find it.
Imagining Yourself Enjoying Your New Cheese Leads You To It.
Haw kept thinking about what he could gain instead of what he was losing.
He wondered why he had always thought that a change would lead to something worse. Now he realized that change could lead to something better.
"Why didn't I see this before?" he asked himself.
Then he raced through the Maze with greater strength and agility. Before long he spotted a Cheese Station and became excited as he noticed little pieces of New Cheese near the entrance.
They were types of Cheese he had never seen before, but they looked great. He tried them and found that they were delicious. He ate most of the New Cheese bits that were available and put a few in his pocket to have later and perhaps share with Hem. He began to regain his strength.
He entered the Cheese Station with great excitement. But, to his dismay, he found it was empty. Someone had already been there and had left only the few bits of New Cheese.
He realized that if he had moved sooner, he would very likely have found a good deal of New Cheese here.
Haw decided to go back and see if Hem was ready to join him.
As he retraced his steps, he stopped and wrote on the wall:
The Quicker You Let Go of Old Cheese, the Sooner You Find New Cheese.
After a while Haw made his way back to Cheese Station C and found Hem. He offered Hem bits of New Cheese, but was turned down.
Hem appreciated his friend's gesture but said, "I don't think I would like New Cheese. It's not what I'm used to. I want my own Cheese back and I'm not going to change until I get what I want."
Haw just shook his head in disappointment and reluctantly went back out on his own. As he returned to the farthest point he had reached in the Maze, he missed his friend, but realized he liked what he was discovering. Even before he found what he hoped would be a great supply of New Cheese, if ever, he knew that what made him happy wasn't just having Cheese.
He was happy when he wasn't being run by his fear. He liked what he was doing now.
Knowing this, Haw didn't feel as weak as he did when he stayed in Cheese Station C with no Cheese. Just realizing he was not letting his fear stop him, and knowing that he had taken a new direction, nourished him and gave him strength.
Now he felt that it was just a question of time before he found what he needed. In fact, he sensed he had already found what he was looking for.
He smiled as he realized:
It Is Safer to Search in the Maze than Remain in a Cheeseless Situation.
Haw realized again, as he had once before, that what you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagine. The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.
He'd been so afraid of never finding New Cheese that he didn't even want to start looking. But since starting his journey, he had found enough Cheese in the corridors to keep him going. Now he looked forward to finding more. Just looking ahead was becoming exciting.
His old thinking had been clouded by his worries and fears. He used to think about not having enough Cheese, or not having it last as long as he wanted. He used to think more about what could go wrong than what could go right.
But that had changed in the days since he had left Cheese Station C.
He used to believe that Cheese should never be moved and that change wasn't right.
Now he realized it was natural for change to continually occur, whether you expect it or not. Change could surprise you only if you didn't expect it and weren't looking for it.
When he realized he had changed his beliefs, he paused to write on the wall:
Old Beliefs Do Not Lead You to New Cheese.
Haw hadn't found any Cheese yet, but as he ran through the Maze, he thought about what he had already learned.
Haw now realized that his new beliefs were encouraging new behaviors. He was behaving differently than when he kept returning to the same cheeseless station.
He knew that when you change what you believe, you change what you do.
You can believe that a change will harm you, and resist it. Or you can believe that finding New Cheese will help you, and embrace the change.
It all depends on what you choose to believe.
He wrote on the wall:
When You See that You Can Find and Enjoy New Cheese, You Change Course.
Haw knew he would be in better shape now if he had dealt with the change much sooner and left Cheese Station C earlier. He would feel stronger in body and spirit and he could have coped better with the challenge of finding New Cheese. In fact, he probably would have found it by now if he had expected change, rather than wasting time denying that the change had already taken place.
He used his imagination again and saw himself finding and savoring New Cheese. He decided to proceed into the more unknown parts of the Maze, and found little bits of Cheese here and there. Haw began to regain his strength and confidence.
As he thought back on where he had come from, Haw was glad he had written on the wall in many places. He trusted that it would serve as a marked trail for Hem to follow through the Maze, if he ever chose to leave Cheese Station C.
Haw just hoped he was heading in the right direction. He thought about the possibility that Hem would read The Handwriting On The Wall and find his way.
He wrote on the wall what he had been thinking about for some time:
Noticing Small Changes Early Helps You Adapt to the Bigger Changes that Are to Come.
By now, Haw had let go of the past and was adapting to the present.
He continued on through the Maze with greater strength and speed. And before long, it happened. When it seemed like he had been in the Maze forever, his journey--or at least this part of his journey--ended quickly and happily.
Haw proceeded along a corridor that was new to him, rounded a corner, and found New Cheese at Cheese Station N!
When he went inside, he was startled by what he saw. Piled high everywhere was the greatest supply of Cheese he had ever seen. He didn't recognize all that he saw, as some kinds of Cheese were new to him.
He wondered for a moment whether it was real or just his imagination, until he saw his old friends Sniff and Scurry.
Sniff welcomed Haw with a nod of his head, and Scurry waved his paw. Their fat little bellies showed that they had been here for some time.
Haw quickly said his hellos and soon took bites of every one of his favorite Cheeses. He pulled off his shoes, tied the laces together, and hung them around his neck in case he needed them again.
Sniff and Scurry laughed. They nodded their heads in admiration. Then Haw jumped into the New Cheese. When he had eaten his fill, he lifted a piece of fresh Cheese and made a toast. "Hooray for Change!"
As Haw enjoyed the New Cheese, he reflected on what he had learned.
He realized that when he had been afraid to change he had been holding on to the illusion of Old Cheese that was no longer there.
So what was it that made him change? Was it the fear of starving to death? Haw smiled, as he thought it certainly helped.
Then he laughed and realized that he had started to change as soon as he had learned to laugh at himself and at what he had been doing wrong. He realized the fastest way to change is to laugh at your own folly--then you can let go and quickly move on.
He knew he had learned something useful about moving on from his mice friends, Sniff and Scurry. They kept life simple. They didn't overanalyze or overcomplicate things. When the situation changed and the Cheese had been moved, they changed and moved with the Cheese. He would remember that.
Haw had also used his wonderful brain to do what Littlepeople do better than mice.
He envisioned himself--in realistic detail--finding something better--much better.
He reflected on the mistakes he had made in the past and used them to plan for his future. He knew that you could learn to deal with change.
You could be more aware of the need to keep things simple, be flexible, and move quickly.
You did not need to overcomplicate matters or confuse yourself with fearful beliefs.
You could notice when the little changes began so that you would be better prepared for the big change that might be coming.
He knew he needed to adapt faster, for if you do not adapt in time, you might as well not adapt at all.
He had to admit that the biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself, and that nothing gets better until you change.
Perhaps most importantly, he realized that there is always New Cheese out there, whether you recognize it at the time or not. And that you are rewarded with it when you go past your fear and enjoy the adventure.
He knew some fear should be respected, as it can keep you out of real danger. But he realized most of his fears were irrational and had kept him from changing when he needed to.
He didn't like it at the time, but he knew that the change had turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it led him to find better Cheese.
He had even found a better part of himself.
As Haw recalled what he had learned, he thought about his friend Hem. He wondered if Hem had read any of the sayings Haw had written on the wall at Cheese Station C and throughout the Maze.
Had Hem ever decided to let go and move on? Had he ever entered the Maze and discovered what could make his life better?
Or was Hem still hemmed in because he would not change?
Haw thought about going back again to Cheese Station C to see if he could find Hem--assuming that Haw could find his way back there. If he found Hem, he thought he might be able to show him how to get out of his predicament. But Haw realized that he had already tried to get his friend to change.
Hem had to find his own way, beyond his comforts and past his fears. No one else could do it for him or talk him into it. He somehow had to see the advantage of changing himself.
Haw knew he had left a trail for Hem and that he could find his way, if he could just read The Handwriting On The Wall.
He went over and wrote down a summary of what he had learned on the largest wall of Cheese Station N. He drew a large piece of cheese around all the insights he had become aware of, and smiled as he looked at what he had learned:
THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL
They Keep Moving the Cheese
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Smell The Cheese Often So You
Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt to Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go of Old Cheese,
The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Savor the Adventure And Enjoy
The Taste of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly
And Enjoy It Again and Again
They keep Moving The Cheese
Haw realized how far he had come since he had been with Hem in Cheese Station C, but knew it would be easy for him to slip back if he got too comfortable. So, each day he inspected Cheese Station N to see what the condition of his Cheese was. He was going to do whatever he could to avoid being surprised by unexpected change.
While Haw still had a great supply of Cheese, he often went out into the Maze and explored new areas to stay in touch with what was happening around him. He knew it was safer to be aware of his real choices than to isolate himself in his comfort zone.
Then, Haw heard what he thought was the sound of movement out in the Maze. As the noise grew louder, he realized that someone was coming.
Could it be that Hem was arriving? Was he about to turn the corner?
Haw said a little prayer and hoped--as he had many times before--that maybe, at last, his friend was finally able to ...
Move with the Cheese and Enjoy It!
The end ... or is it a new beginning?