Welcome to Life on GentleCycle

We aspire to live gently in the world

Welcome Gentle Readers,

We are Susan Carey and Jamie Wyant

Susan and Jamie

We are Susan Carey and Jamie Wyant.  The basic idea of Life on Gentle Cycle first arose when we realized that we enjoyed slow, quiet, self-organized, semi-planned bicycle touring — an approach we called gentle cycling. We still have a few cycling posts that you can find here.

When we retired in 2017 it was like changing the setting on a washing machine from “Agitate and Spin'' to "Gentle Cycle.”  We sold our Salem, Oregon home and most of our possessions and moved with five elderly pets to Valencia, Spain. You can read more about moving to and living in Valencia here. That was retirement phase one.

Retirement phase two began as, one by one, our senior pets set aside the burdens of daily life.  We decided to explore Western Europe with one daypack, one suitcase, (and for a brief time one cat) each. Posts from the months we spent in the Alpujarra region of southern Spain living  in the village of Mairena are here. All of our Gentle Journey posts are assembled here. 

Our life’s journey is about to change – again.

Because paths can and do fork in ways no man or woman can ever truly grasp, for that is the way the world has been made.
Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven

We’ve both been thinking it’s about time for a change.  Sure, this rambling  life we are currently leading is interesting, fun, and full of learning.  As nice as it has been (and it really has been the best time of our lives), it can’t last forever. Pretty soon we’re going  to settle down, create an environment where we can thrive and maintain our independence as we age.

Over the years as we have explored new places, different ways of living, and our own inner selves, the idea that gentle living can – and should be – more than an easy-going retirement has infused our thinking. We realized that we aspire to live gently in the world.

What does living gently mean for us?

Living gently means living aware that with each choice we make we are writing our signature on the face of the land. It means raising our awareness of all the brutality, the waste, and the contaminants that the modern economy is very good at hiding. And most importantly, it means looking at our own lives while asking: “What is our role in all this? Shouldn’t we live life differently? And how should we begin?”

The Challenge

How will we take what we have learned about ourselves and the world around us and adjust in order to give ourselves a good chance to truly live gently in the world, of finishing out life with as much satisfaction as possible?
“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House

Early in 2022, after reading Dr Michael Greger’s book How Not to Die (Flatiron Books, 2015) we modified our vegan diets by eliminating industrial processed vegan products and intentionally including a much greater variety of whole vegetables, fruits, pulses and nuts. We didn’t stop there though.  

Shifting the focus of our attention during the daily tasks of food buying and preparation rekindled Jamie’s enthusiasm for ecosystem thinking. He began to envision our itinerant household as a tiny part of the global ecosystem. 

At the same time, Susan’s deepening interest in yoga practice awakened an appreciation of the  union of mind, body, spirit that yoga engenders. 

As we compared notes and shared our thinking, we began to see the way, to see how we could live with intention and  find our way to an ethically consistent way of living.

And Now for Something Completely Different  Monty Python Film Title 

Over the next few months we will shift the emphasis of Living on GentleCycle.  We will be exploring ways to integrate our dedication to:

  • Gentle, nonviolent sustenance,
  • Gentle, age appropriate yoga and other physical activities,
  • Growing self knowledge through meditation and inner exploration, creative arts, and collaboration with others,
  • Growing our knowledge and awareness of the world around us through continuous learning, gentle travel, and community participation.

By living gently in the coming years we might actually clean up our own messy contribution to mindless consumerism and maybe balance the account.

Our Companions Are Gone But Not Forgotten

Susan spent the last 16 years of her career at Willamette Humane Society in Salem, Oregon. Not surprisingly, the companion animals who accompanied us to Spain came from the pool of animals, unwanted, abandoned and discarded by others.  Lucky for us -- these were the best friends and teachers we've had.
Rico our companion cat of 19 years

Rico

Lizzie the best dog ever

Lizzie

Teej our hamndsome companion of 21 years

Teej

Living respectfully with companion animals taught us that there’s no real boundary between us and the world -- no moral distinction between our welfare and the welfare of all beings.