Handing over your passport to be stamped is like giving away, for just a quick moment, the canvas to an important work of art, a masterpiece that is ever changing. The creation of this opus involves not just the participation of that whose name it bears, but also the gatekeeper to each respective nation, who must give his permission of a new addition, a new swoosh of the paintbrush. The artwork is never complete, it will soon be changed, and how so is decided by the quick turn of the page, a wetting of the rubber with ink, and a small amount of pressure put onto the page. The varying colors and sizes of stamps and visas work together to tell the story of one’s travels. The different hues, the slight overlaps, and the lone stamp on the last page waiting to be filled in by the start of a new journey work together to explain so much. The passport is living and growing, and this spirit can be understood and felt.
When we look at other travelers’ passports we look at the funny portraits, read the different language, and see where our friends have been. A passport gives a small glimpse into what someone has experienced and the things that they may have learned. Traveling and experiencing other cultures is a huge catalyst to all forms of learning and a passport is a unique way to look into someone’s past and the things that they may have encountered. The passport is most magnificent because it is silent and ambiguous- it only says, “you were here,” it doesn’t explain your thoughts, what you saw, or who you met. We must imagine what took place between the entrance and exit stamps and fantasize about receiving a similar one for ourselves one day.
Looking through someone else’s passport is like seeing the table of contents to their life story. Seeing your own passport is being reminded of all the wanderings thus far and all that has been taken in and learned.