Morton salt doll

“You’re all salt dolls afraid to walk into the ocean.”

A Buddhist teacher named Hilda* said that in a lecture at St. John the Divine in New York City many, many years ago.  I never forgot it.

She was right about me.  I was a terrified little salt doll dancing around on the beach, scampering back if a wave of happiness got too close to my dried up little feet.  Surrendering to the Ocean seemed like annihilation, and perhaps it would be in a way—the absorption of my limited self, the melting of the false persona that I created that I hoped (mistakenly) would protect me from hurt.  Unfortunately, what it really did was block me from my own light.

As a teacher I have witnessed so many students afraid of their talent, their beauty, and their power who have built false personas diametrically opposed to who they really are.  Maintaining such an untruthful exterior frustrates and aggravates the people around them.

Why do we cling to these false, empty personas?  What are we afraid of?  Love?  Happiness?

What if we dared to walk into this Ocean, relinquished our dried-up, old, limited beliefs about ourselves, and became who we really are.   But, oh, the terror of surrendering our pseudo poor-me selves! Not to mention the exhaustion because we use so much energy maintaining these defenses.

For me, the idea of being the entire ocean was too overwhelming.  Lately it seems that I have been willing at least to step into a small salt pond.  As I relax and enjoy the marshes and the herons, the old idea of me is dissolving because surrender is surrender:  it doesn’t matter if in a salt pond or the ocean.  Maybe happiness takes tricking the mind a little.  Maybe happiness takes some practice.

Here’s an idea:  what if you were to take a bath tonight (maybe even add some Epsom salts) and step into it with the willingness to surrender that very limited, salt doll persona you’ve had for so long?  What if you made a kind of ritual of it saying, “Here I am God.  I let go of all the negative, useless, fearful, willful, stubborn ideas about who I am and what I think I should be.  From this moment on, I am who I really am!  I am willing to be happy.” Start with enjoying the bath.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

And when you pull the plug, watch that water and your salt doll self drain away knowing every drop will eventually end up in the Ocean anyway.  Hah.

*If you have more information about Hilda, please let me know.


  1. Depressingly, I have just found out that my favorite cheese has more salt than the equivalent amount of seawater. So I am actually becoming more salty as I get older. In more ways than one. But you’re right about taking that first step, of course. 🙂

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