A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 11 July 2010


The title of my blog comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book The Reveries Of The Solitary Walker, a collection of 10 walking soliloquies. It's described in the blurb of my own copy as follows:

First published posthumously in 1782 from an unfinished manuscript, The Reveries of the Solitary Walker continues Rousseau's exploration of the soul in the form of a final meditation on self-understanding and isolation.

In his book Walkers Miles Jebb quotes this passage from Rousseau:

In thinking over the details of my life which are lost to my memory, what I most regret is that I did not keep diaries of my travels. Never did I think so much, exist so vividly, and experience so much, never have I been so much myself - if I may use that expression - as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot. There is something about walking which stimulates and enlivens my thoughts. When I stay in one place I can hardly think at all; my body has to be on the move to set my mind going. The sight of the countryside, the succession of pleasant views, the open air, a sound appetite, and the good health I gain from walking, the easy atmosphere of an inn, the absence of everything that makes me feel my dependence, of everything that recalls me to my situation - all these serve to free my spirit, to lend a greater boldness to my thinking, to throw me, so to speak, into the vastness of things, so that I can combine them, select them and make them mine as I will, without fear or restraint.

Thus in one short paragraph this blog's credo is encapsulated. (Two other posts explaining the origin of my blog's title are here and here.)


Dominic Rivron said...

"Never did I think so much, exist so vividly, and experience so much..."

Anyone who walks and thinks can relate to what Rousseau is saying! However, those periods of intense, mind opening thought quite often seem trite if one does write them down straight afterwards. I think one of the great things about writing is that it sorts the mental wheat from the chaff.

George said...

Well, there it is in one brief statement by Rousseau -- the reason why so many of us are passionate about walking. Everything is better with walking. The body works better, the mind works better, the heart is relieved of its anxieties, food tastes better, sleep is better, life is better -- the list of benefits is endless.

Bonnie said...

Ahhh yes. The words that resonate for me are, '...to throw me....into the vastness of things'. We need time alone, we need to move, we need to recognize how much we are an integral part of it all, to adapt our rhythms to those of the planet. Being a 'solitary walker' allows one to do just that.

The premise of your blog does shine through in your posts and draws me here.

Lorenzo said...

You are an excellent practitioner and promoter of this fine credo.

fireweed meadow said...

Walking,there truly is nothing better. No matter what any given day brings, it is always the walking that feels the best and that I most look forward to. Hmmm. . . maybe I'm part dog.