What if your cheese is moved?
Cheese? I hear you ask.
Yes, cheese and no, this is not some Disneyland cat and mouse fable. In a way though, it is, different only by the amount of wisdom and enduring life lessons that it bears for which you should be thankful not to me, but to the one from whose mouth the story was first told, Dr Spencer Johnson.
You see, I am not a motivational speaker or something. I certainly do not subscribe to buying tickets to gather in a hall and listen to some smart fellow mouth-off on carefully memorized quotes by great thinkers in the name of helping me fulfill my destiny when the only destiny being fulfilled is that of the organizer. I begrudge you not if you do. What we can agree easily on, however, is the fact that life is one continuous struggle to find cheese, to graduate, find a job, get married, win an election, win the Nobel. Like mice running about a maze, some of us are good at sniffing out cheese, others are quicker to reach it and some others still are really good at helping themselves to more than their fair share of the cheese.
What if your cheese is moved, I ask again?
What if that means of livelihood and happiness that you’ve criss-crossed the labyrinths of the corridors and narrow chambers that is life to find – your job, position, political office, relationship, marriage, house, good health, etc, is suddenly and rudely taken away? What if your life as you know it today in which everything seems ordered suddenly turns on its head and comes crashing down like a pack of loosely piled cards?
What would you do? How would you react? Wail until your tear glands produce blood? Grumble to everyone who cares to listen until you begin to sound miserable? Mourn it like you would the dead? Live in denial like it’s not happening? Blame your enemies and the owl that cried at night? Embark on fasting and prayer for the old cheese to be returned? Or would you sob a little, embrace it, adjust quickly and proceed to discovering new and perhaps even better testing cheese?
How complacent have you become about your present life circumstances? You grew up in affluence; all your needs are but a phone call away. You have that fantastic job and the world is perfect because a bank alert is certain by month’s end. Your startup business is bringing in more returns than the books projected so you can afford to spend less time at work and learn to play golf. Your constituents love you, you have stuffed their necks full so you can afford to relax in Abuja as the next election approaches and be certain they will vote you. Your husband, well you now have him hooked, why are you still bothering about looking good or being in shape?
We often get so comfortable and even develop a serious sense of arrogance in our state of comfort that we fail to notice what is happening around us. So much so that even when the handwriting on the wall suggests that a change is imminent, we throw our heads the other way and reassure ourselves about the omnipotence of the status quo.
What if the cheese as a matter of its nature, is constantly moving? What if change like we often say is simply inevitable? What if your failure to change leaves you prone to extinction?
Our greatest undoing oftentimes is a refusal to become better, to learn new things, to venture out of our immediate comfort zones, to take risks. There is a natural apathy to change, a blood pressure spiking anxiety that comes with venturing into the unknown. This is why we refuse to admit even to ourselves that it is time to move on. We forget easily that when we are able to move beyond our fears, we feel and truly become free.
Old beliefs do not lead to new cheese it must be said. Doing things the same way over and over again and expecting a different result is the stuff psychosis is made of. This has been our bane as a nation and also as individuals. We have mastered the art of complaining as a people but we never seem to be able to muster what is necessary to change the situation that has left us where we are.
So what if your cheese is moved?
No need over-analyzing the situation. Nature guarantees that there is cheese somewhere else waiting to be found and the quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese. Jump right back into the maze in search of a new cheese mine for in the final analysis, it is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo is the author of ‘The Funeral Did Not End’ and tweets at @nzesylva
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