It means that you are always traveling. It is a response to travelers or travel bloggers who complain about being “home” and wish to return to “the road.” It is an admonition to lifelong journeyers to embrace their current location, wherever that might be, with the spirit of travel. It is a dare to make an existential leap — from seeing your life as punctuated by periodic travel, to seeing your life as perpetual travel.
These ideas mesh with Ribbonfarm’s “The Stream Map of the World” post, which proposes the construct of streams and stream citizens. If you’ve filled a passport (or two or three +) with stamps, and made friends from all over the world in the process, you might feel a tension between your weird roving lifestyle and rooted Western culture. The Ribbonfarm post might help you understand the path you’ve taken, and encourage you to continue on your way despite growing cultural/family pressure to pick a spot and stay there.
Fellow Millennials, I’m looking at you.
Here are a few selections from the post, bold mine:
A stream is not a migration pattern, travel in the usual sense, or a consequence of specific kinds of work that require travel (such as seafaring or diplomacy). It is a sort of slow, life-long communal nomadism, enabled by globalization and a sense of shared transnational social identity within a small population.
Stream citizens are not global citizens (a vacuous high-modernist concept that is as culturally anemic as the UN). Their social identities are far narrower and richer. They are (undeclared) stream citizens, whose identities derive from their slow journey across the world.
Selected features of stream citizenship (from a list of 12):
3. Voluntary slowness: A stream is a pattern of movement where individual movements take place over years or decades, spanning entire development life stages. Unlike a decade-long limbo state imposed by (say) waiting for an American green card, which has individuals impatient to get the process over with and “settle down” in either a new home, or return to an old one, stream citizens don’t experience their state as a limbo state. They are always “home.” Being a relatively new phenomenon, there are no streams that are life-encompassing as yet. But I believe those will emerge — distinctive cradle-t0-grave geographic journeys.
10. High adaptability: Nostalgia is weak for stream citizens, as is the faraway-home/near-exotic sense of alienation from surrounding. Stream citizens are both home and abroad at the same time.
12. Lack of an arrival dynamic: This is perhaps the most important feature. There is no sense of anticipation of an “arrival” event such as getting an American green card, after which “real” life can begin. There is a wherever you go, there you are indifference to rootedness. This psychological shift is the central individual act. By abandoning arrival-based frames, stream citizens free themselves from yearning for geographically rooted forms of social identity.
Note: After reading the Ribbonfarm comments and Googling a few phrases, it seems that this meme hasn’t been discussed by the Rolf Potts-inspired Vagabonding blog network, the RTW scene or the Matador Mafia. If it has been and you can link to threads of interest, please do so in the comments.
Photo by Astragony via Flickr.