In this passage from the Eighth Walk in The Reveries Of The Solitary Walker Rousseau reminds us that, in order to appreciate a walk in nature with all its charms, you must leave behind the disturbance of the vain ideas of the drawing room, the fumes of self-love and the tumult of the world, and social passions and their sad retinue:
I remember perfectly that during my brief moment of prosperity these same solitary walks which are so delightful for me today were insipid and boring. When I was at someone's house in the country, the need to get some exercise and to breathe fresh air often made me go out alone; and sneaking away like a thief, I would go walk about the park or the countryside. But far from finding the happy calm I savor there today, I took along the disturbance of the vain ideas which had preoccupied me in the drawing room. Memory of the company I had left followed me into solitude. The fumes of self-love and the tumult of the world made the freshness of the groves seem dull and troubled the peace of the retreat. I fled deep into the woods in vain; an importunate crowd followed me everywhere and veiled all of nature to me. It is only after having detached myself from social passions and their sad retinue that I have again found nature with all its charms.
What a lot of truth there is in this! I'm sure we all recognise that feeling of sometimes not being able to shake off the vain cares and idle demands of society when we go for a walk. In society we often find ourselves "performing" and adhering to a rôle, doing what's expected of us. On a solitary walk however we suddenly realise that it's just ourselves and nature. We can go this way or that way in complete freedom. We don't have to impress the rivers, the rocks and the trees. They don't judge us or want anything from us. They are just there. They are simply and magnificently themselves.