Let’s break down this wonderful analogy a little bit.
Dave [Chapelle] sees himself as the baboon, obviously.
The salt represents short-term pleasures – a burst of money and wealth and so on. It sits in the hole and he wants it and reaches in for it.
The television executives are the bushman in this analogy – his bosses at the time, in other words.
The cage is the contract that Chapelle would have to place himself under. His creative choices, his personal freedom, all of that would trap him – but he’d have plenty of salt (short-term pleasures)!
The water is what they both want – long-term security.
Dave makes the astute point that he was the baboon, but he saw the bushman and the cage and he chose to drop the salt. He reached in for some short-term pleasures and rewards, but he saw that if he didn’t let go of it, he was going to wind up in a cage for a very long time. Sure, he might eventually get to the water, but he’d have to be in a cage for a long while to get there and he didn’t want to do that.
So he dropped the salt lump. He walked away from his popular show and the all-encompassing fame and the prospect of wealth to forge a path with a lot more freedom. He’ll get to the water eventually, but on his own terms, without being trapped in a cage.
The Baboon and the Salt – The Simple Dollar
The video is worth your time as is the entire article.