Lately, I’ve been doing quite a lot of personal counseling sessions with a few mentees and friends going through one form of personal problem or the other, ranging from job losses, financial issues to problems with their spouses and/or children. Most are not at a good place emotionally, spiritually and physically too as some of the issues are beginning to affect their health. As usual I get so emotionally invested in some of these friends and I spend long hours talking, discussing, listening to both spoken and unspoken words just to understand how and where to give help or give counsel.
As I sat thinking through some of the issues this evening, I began flipping through several online platforms I normally visit to read up on current issues and trends and I stumbled on a video of an interview that Dave Chappelle had given with Gayle King a few days ago. In that part of the interview, he tried to explain why he had to step away from the spotlight and he used an analogy of a nature show he watched. It was about “how a bushman finds water when it is scarce.” Chappelle relays the episode: “They do what they call a salt dance. I didn’t know this but apparently, baboons love salt.” Chappelle goes on to talk about how they (the bushmen) put a lump of salt in a hole and wait for the baboon. When the baboon comes, and sticks his hand in the hole and grabs the salt, the salt makes his hand bigger and he’s trapped. He can’t get his hand out. Chappelle says, ‘If he’s smart, he’d just let go of the salt.” But he’s not. The bushman comes, grabs the baboon and puts him in a cage and gives him all the salt he wants. When the baboon gets thirsty, the bushman lets the baboon out and follows him to water. In that analogy, Chappelle says, “I felt like the baboon.” He however said something else: “but I was smarter, I let go of the salt.”
I listened to that part of the video twice and something just went off in my head. Boom!!! That is it! I began to read more on baboons and salt and I just could not stop shaking my head.
Let me share what went off in my head. So many people are stuck with their hands in a water hole, just like the baboon, because they won’t let go of the salt. They become slaves to the bushman because of the salt. They sell their worth and life because of the salt. They give up their conscience for a block of salt. They lie, cheat, defraud, defame, slander, kill, steal and destroy because of the salt.
Salt is meant to give food flavour but over-salted food cannot be eaten. In the human body, excess salt is a killer. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels. Over time, the extra work and pressure can stiffen blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead to heart failure. There is also some evidence that too much salt can damage the heart, aorta, and kidneys without increasing blood pressure, and that it may be bad for bones, too.
Let me tell you something. The baboon will give an arm and a leg for a block of salt. They will fight viciously to hold on to that salt in their hands, inside a hole. The baboon’s obsession with salt is just like the human obsession with ‘salty’ pleasures – wealth, fame, men, women, status, Instagram and Facebook likes and validations, the ‘my home is better than yours’ foolishness, the number of clothes and shoes I have, the school my children attend – and such and such.
Yes, just like salt, these pleasures seem to add zest and spice to life but as with all earthly pleasures, when not curbed, comes with their attendant bitterness and brokenness. Like the baboon, we are attracted to those things that will take our life, our freedom, our common sense, our humanity and we risk it all to be enslaved and ultimately lead to our destruction. All the baboon needed to do was to release the salt, let it go and then it can remove its hand but nah!
I reasoned here and then, that most of the problems we have are personally inflicted when we begin to live lives that are full of lies because we want to present a particular image to people who don’t even know us, or even bother about us. The salt is a representation of burdens. Unnecessary burdens we put on ourselves. Financial burdens, emotional burdens, success burdens, marriage burdens, family burdens, people burdens, etc. We all have them or have had them or will have them. Burdens have a way of stressing us out and not allowing us to see the bigger picture. We sometimes see the end of the foolishness we are indulged in but we refuse to let go. The baboon saw the bushman who set the trap for it, coming towards it and still refused to let the salt go.
For others, the burdens can be other things – guilt, shame, self-worth, failure, etc. I know this personally but you will only become enslaved if you refuse to remove your hand from the hole by letting go. These are just excess luggage and as with every excess luggage, you pay for it and sometimes, heavily too.
I won’t say the baboon represents us humans, but I will say as humans we need to let our burdens go; especially when we see the effects it is having on our lives – becoming emotional wrecks, health – inexplicable health concerns, finances – trying to keep up with the Joneses; the effect on our marital life and homes – living unhappily yet presenting a happy image; on our children – bringing up badly behave, untrained, unmannered and ungodly offspring.
We need to let go of the salt. Let go of those salty obsessions. Let go! Let go!
Just let go.