Yesterday Gesine and I had a business meeting to review the financial sustainability of this year’s work. There have been fewer participants at key events, and at times we’ve reluctantly dipped into our savings. I was reminded of a parable I read almost twenty years ago, Who Moved My Cheese? in which people get used to a regular supply of their favourite “cheese”, whether it’s money, security or other sources of well-being. Then, suddenly, the cheese runs out, and people are shocked.
Understandably, they are reluctant to take the risk of putting on their running shoes and going out into the maze to find new “cheese”. It’s a situation I guess that we’ve all been in at some point, whether it’s a job coming to an end, or a relationship, or a way of life…
When people have lost something that gives them a sense of security, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge the depth of the loss. At the same time, how do you encourage yourself (or others) to put your running shoes on again? The author’s response? Give a detailed, realistic description of the new cheese. So detailed in fact that someone can almost smell, touch and taste it.
As we review the year that’s ending, and look forward to the next one, what is my new cheese? Can I imagine it in a way that supports me to take the risks I need to take? Well, I’ve just had my first book published, which is a lifelong ambition. It’s opened doors for me, so some new cheese would be to share Nonviolent Communication (NVC) with increasingly diverse groups of doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges.
Can I imagine reaching out to these groups with confidence that I have something to contribute? The look on their faces as they discover a quality of connection with themselves and others that they had only dreamt of. And can I enjoy having more money in our bank account than I know what to do with! Can I imagine that figure?
At the same time, one of the main reasons I wrote a book was to ensure a place in my life for creativity. So some new cheese for me would be to spend time writing another book, perhaps finishing the book I started on being ill with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Can I imagine making the space in my diary to do it? Sitting down day after day for weeks, months, patiently building a narrative. The joy of finishing writing for the day, knowing that I’ve contributed to the world in ways that only I can!
Finally, next year I’d like to enjoy more of a sense of ease and spaciousness. Can I imagine going offline for a week or two and meditating? The wind on my cheek as I go for an afternoon walk, somewhere away from cars, the sun shining, and taking a breath.
As the year changes, what’s your new cheese? Can you give someone a detailed, realistic description of it? And when someone wishes you Happy New Year, wish them Happy New Cheese!