Monday, April 6, 2009

Who Moved My Cheese (review)

I've been hearing people mention this book for quite some time now. I finally read Who Moved My Cheese yesterday. I skipped the intro and the afterward, but the meat (or cheese) of the book was pretty good.

(SPOILERS, sort of)
It's really an allegory about how once we have things easy in life (in business, personal, or just all-around), we ought not get too complacent and comfortable, lest we miss the signs that the "cheese" (the thing(s) that makes life worth living for you) is getting used up and will be gone soon.

In the story, Hem and Haw are shocked to discover one morning that the cheese they had worked so long and hard to attain is suddenly gone after it had been right there where they had found it for years and years. Of course the mice, Scriffy and Scurry, they were well aware of what was happening, and they've already gone racing off to find a new supply because, really, what else is there to do? But the humans, they're not so quick on the uptake because they have all these complex belief systems in their heads that get in the way. They get to thinking like, "Who moved my cheese!?" "Wait and it will come back," "We deserve cheese," etc.

The venerable Professor J. R. R. Tolkien said something to the effect that he detested allegory in all its forms. I guess I am not like him. I feel I understand what he is driving at: that allegory is icky insofar as it's someone else's rather blatant attempt to tell you what to think. Mr. Tolkien is correct--that's bad. However, allegory isn't always like that. Sometimes it can be a (admittedly heavy handed) way to explain something, or a way to remind you of something that you already knew or ought to know in a memorable way.

Now, I will be remembering the mice and littlepeople with their running shoes and track outfits zipping through the maze of life in pursuit of The Cheese for a long time. And hopefully it will remind me to not be complacent, to not get too comfortable with my cheese, and to know when to read the Handwriting on the Wall.

Furry cows moo and decompress.