Hanging your shield typically meant that your fighting days were over. If you were still active your sword and shield were always within arms reach. Some shields were quite heavy. Sometimes hanging our shields came without our approval. Whether fate set it upon us or we set it upon ourselves to end our journey is only known and pontificated by the man hanging it.
An injury, the end of our service obligation or a change in career meant we left our sword or rifle above our mantle. There are some really great stories in cinema where the hero comes back to rescue someone. The Unforgiven, Shane, High Noon, and Gran Torino come to mind.
I know that a lot of veterans have a hard time transitioning. I’ve been there. Spotterup came from my own struggle to find purpose and to impart wisdom. Sometimes the fight never leaves the gunfighter and that’s okay. William Munny and Walt Kowalski impacted communities and both struggled. Heroes never truly rest, that’s not the way they are engineered.
It’s never a question or not whether you are done or are not done with battling. It’s really by what degree. Men aren’t light switches that are on or off. We’re more like smoldering fires that are raging or subdued even when eking out a living like pig farmer Munny or watching time pass like Korean War vet Kowalski.
If you’re struggling to find a war to fight that’s physical, consider that real wars start in the mind. Sharpen your mental weapons. Maybe the battle you fight is in helping your granddaughter win a spelling bee or saving a neighbor from being beaten by her spouse. Warfare never leaves us, we’re not built that way. Regardless of how many foreign movies we watch, how much pate and Brie we eat trying to soften ourselves well I don’t think that’s the right approach.
IMO live your life, and see battle as a good part of yourself, but simultaneously see it as something in the distant past that can be recalled and reconstituted if need be. Hanging a shield removes a burden but if you need that weight and that armor, sling it back on, because the world does need heroes. Just make sure you’re ready to handle the call when it comes. It will come one way or another.
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