In his fifth walk in Reveries of a Solitary Walker, Rousseau has removed himself to the sparsely inhabited island of St. Peter's on Lake Bienne. His neighbors in Môtiers had angrily responded to his democratic ideas in his Letters from the Mountains, so Rousseau decided it was time to relocate to a new locale.
His relationship to happy memories while on the island are complex. The chief charm of his setting is not the memories it engenders but the opportunity it offers to live in the beauty of the present moment and away from sad recollections. He states that he enjoys being:
detached from the rest of the world, where nothing but smiling objects presented themselves, where no painful remembrances were recalled
He also notes that the most memorable moments in life are too sharp and intense (filled with "delirium and passion"), too removed from the quietude of everyday life, to provide him with the kind of solace he seeks:
the periods of sweetest enjoyment, and most lively pleasure, are not those whose remembrance wins and delights me most. These moments of delirium and passion, however charming they might be, appear from their vivacity itself, but as points thinly scattered along the line of life, being too detached and rapid to constitute any permanent idea of felicity.
Instead, he wants to connect with the half-forgotten moments of ordinary happiness that he can experience by living in the present. He very much loves the nature that surrounds him on the island and finds joy in losing himself in it. He likes not so much to remember as to walk around or float lying on the bottom of rowboat as it drifts and rocks on the lake, enjoying a mix of the present moment with what he calls "reveries" or daydreams.