The central image in section 46 of "Song of Myself" is that of the road—more specifically, a traveler or a tramp making a journey along the road. The speaker says early in the section,
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods...
Though he is poor and his life is simple, he is well prepared for his journey. The journey, moreover, is the point, not the destination. The poet says that he has "no chair, no church, no philosophy." Everyone must travel the road for themselves, though the poet promises to bear our burdens if we tire and to feed us milk and biscuits by the side of the road.
At the end of the section, the metaphor
changes from walking to swimming:
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
This makes the point that the journey of life can be represented in many different ways. We need not get too attached to one particular metaphor or image. Attachment itself is the habit of which the poet is trying to rid the reader by showing us new ways to live and to look at the world. The important things are making the journey for its own sake and the combination of independence and brotherhood that is evident in both the extended metaphor of walking on the road and the briefer metaphor of swimming in the sea.