I saw some cops having lunch at the diner the other day. There were three of them, big guys crammed into a booth, working through sandwiches and fries.  They each wore a heavy leather utility belt with a flashlight, handcuffs, mace, a Taser, a notebook, a radio, a nightstick, a big handgun and God knows what else.  These cops sat very erect — under their uniforms, their torsos were girded in a thick bulletproof vest.

When their meal was done, one officer reached for the bill — but it slipped out of his grip and fluttered to the floor. He leaned over, grunting, to pick it up. Straining and cursing, he couldn’t bend in the middle to reach it. The gun, the vest, all the clobber had him strapped down and inflexible. Eventually, the waitress saw his predicament and darted down to lightly pick up the bill and replace it in front of him.

Life can force us to armor up. As we endure traumas, abuse, poor judgment, we layer on defenses to protect us from what has happened. As they say in the Pentagon, we are always preparing to fight the last war. But many of our shields are redundant, obsolete, and confining. As we bolster ourselves against more and more possible eventualities, we become like medieval knights struggling to get back on the horse under a load of steel plate.

Do you need it all? Look at your ramparts. Monitor your reactions. Check your gear and see if, maybe, you can lighten your load.