Sixteen years ago as I was readying to move across country from Miami to Santa Monica, a friend gave me a copy of Who Moved My Cheese?, by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It was an appropriate gift. I had lived in Miami for 12 years and was happy with my life, my job, my friends. Basically, I was happy with my day-to-day. But what beckoned me to LA was a man – and my friend saw that my bags were packed, but my mind wasn’t. I was emotional about leaving the place I had known and loved for the past dozen years.
My friend didn’t want me to pass up the opportunity for change, so he handed me the book one morning after our swim, and suggested I read it. Ever since that day in early 2000, I have referred to that book each time challenges come up in my own life.
The cheese is a metaphor for what we want in life, and what we think makes us happy. You spend time in the maze looking for the cheese (what you want) and in the process you settle on your routine, without challenging yourself to seek what else might be out there. The story is an exercise in making one think about that change, and how to make it work to your advantage, ultimately leading you to success.
Once again, someone has moved my cheese. We have been in the middle of a house move, which included three weeks between homes. The logistics of the move were overwhelming at times (where to store our belongings three weeks, where would we be during that time, etc.), but last Monday morning I found myself in the new house. The garage was filled with boxes of our belongings, the movers set to arrive with our furniture, and there was no coffee in my hand.
We had rid ourselves of our failing drip coffee maker along with the move. Planner that I am, I carefully packed my Chemex coffee maker, filters and coffee grinder in a clearly marked box so I could access it upon arrival at the new home. My intention was to purchase a new drip coffee maker once we were settled into the house, and I had an official address. But, until I purchased a new one, the Chemex would be our brewer.
Our Coffee Habit
Our primary choice of coffee brewing has been the drip brewer. The Chemex is relegated to Sunday morning coffee – but only if I decide that I have the ‘time.” So, honestly, the Chemex is pulled out of the cupboard only a handful of times each year.
As I unpacked the box, I felt a bit of trepidation. My mind filled with questions: Would the brewed coffee be tasty? Would I be annoyed by the process of actively taking part in the brewing of my coffee? Would Greg easily tire of the flavor of the pour-over coffee, or the process? Would I really have the time, and the patience, to tend to pour over brewing in the morning?
Well, for the past 9 days, I’ve been heating the water on the stove, then brewing our morning pot in the Chemex. I find it surprisingly satisfying – not only the flavor of the coffee, but the process. I actually like the change in my routine.
As Who Moved my Cheese? reminds me, change happens, we must anticipate the change, adapt with it, and enjoy the change. This sentiment is true – especially when it comes to my Chemex.
Sure there have been times in the past week that I yearned for the ease of just pressing a button and having my coffee be brewed for me. But the process of making my own coffee — taking the extra time and attention to pouring the water over the grinds, waiting for it to drip, then doing it again — has reminded me that change is good. And sometimes, you just need to embrace that change in order to find something better.
I’ve embraced this change. Honestly, the move has given me a new perspective, and a better understanding of the Chemex, and the pour-over method of brewing coffee. I’m also drinking less coffee than before – but enjoying it much more!
I’m glad to have had the opportunity to find some new cheese!
Footnote: Things turned out well when someone moved my cheese from Florida to California. I married that ‘LA man,’ and we remain committed to starting the day together with a cup of coffee. As of this morning, we have not yet decided on when we’ll purchase a new drip coffee maker.