Softly Loud

Mark J. Janssen
3 min readFeb 2

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There is a West African proverb best known in America because of its use by Theodore Roosevelt: Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.

Then there is the saying of the nineteenth century French author Emile Zola: If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.

We can either speak softly with a big stick in our hands, challenging the world to speak back, ready to tromp on anyone we think disagreeable, or we can challenge the world by raising our voices to demand the world listen to us. Be quietly threatening or live loudly.

That may appear to be engaging as either/or thinking. Is it truthfully? Or is it different versions of the same thing? The reality is that we have more options to life than to feel we have to choose one or the other. Either/or.

What if we do both and neither?

What, pray tell, becomes of us in the surprising event we discover that life offers us rainbow thinking? It isn’t necessary for us to go through life with black and white thinking. We can live in a plethora of colorful thoughts, spiritualities and manners of being at the same time.

Isn’t that a shock?

Isn’t it fun?

I attend spirituality meetings on an almost daily basis. Before Covid we met in person. Now we meet via the internet thanks to Marian Croak and all of the inspiring women and men who worked on VOIP and other internet systems.

As I used to sit in the back during live meetings so I could duck out and catch a breath of fresh air when the rooms became too close, now I typically sit with my camera off listening. I am in tremendous awe of the wisdom and intelligence which drops into my life at the most unexpected times.

Today I was asked to speak, much to my dismay. I had prepared myself knowing this unfortunate turn of events might take place. I took my short time to present a quick exposition of softly loudly. Of how I have sought quiet and privacy all of my life. Even as a child I preferred privacy over the presence of other people. I left out the part about being surrounded by angels. If seeing angels with everyone everywhere I go. That there is no real privacy for me. Should I not tell the angels and spirits to be quiet or send them away, I am inundated with spiritual chatter.

Add to that being swamped by the presences of people. Let me assure you that life is far easier to live when not pressed in by crowds. Even the presence of just one other person can feel unbearably loud if they are surrounded by angels pulling them one way as spirits pull them in the opposite direction.

Privacy is the gift of soft silence.

There is an expectation put upon us we’d rather not acknowledge. All of us are always supposed to be cheerful. It’s demanded of us. Put on a happy face.

Or else.

Or else what?

How about if, rather than living life out loud or softly threatening the rest of humanity, we allow our spirituality to shine through?

How about our inner God shine out through our outer being?

How about if, for the rest of our lives, we permit our good to shine out from our souls?

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Mark J. Janssen

Mark Janssen is a spiritual warrior, mystic and author. His writes a weekly blog. His memoir “Reach for the Stars” is available online and in bookstores.