Book of Crossroads

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lighteningIn 1940, 8 out of 10 boys who graduated from school went to war. All men ages 18–45 were liable for military service and required to register. The government then selected men through a lottery system. World War II fatality statistics estimate the total of dead ranging from 50 million to over 70 million, 2.5% of the world population. It is the deadliest war in world history. In the summer of 1944, a large number of soldiers were deployed for the invasion of Europe. The yearbook I purchased one summer from a thrift store was from 1944.

It was in good condition as if stored for many years. The cover was made of burlap, the binding tight, and the pages were white with no tears. There were many black and white photos of students, faculty, and cartoons with 1940’s humor.

When I brought it home I looked for a name to identify the owner. I found clues from reading what classmates had written and discovered the owner was a young male who seemed to be popular and well liked. I was surprised by the dark humor a few wrote regarding graduating and going to war. “Don’t get your head blown off!”, was written next to a cartoon of a smiling head. In the 1940’s everyone knew many friends and family members who died in the war. It was very close to home and a frightening time to live. It was the time Anne Frank wrote her well published diary chronicling her life from 1942 to 1944.

As I continued to read, deep feelings of sadness and fear came over me. I saw the mental image of a young, thin, white male with brown eyes and short brown hair parted on the side. He was smiling and I was confused by the sad emotions and happy image. I looked through the book hoping to find the image I saw. To my surprise I did! It was his high school picture and his name was below it. Suddenly I felt relief, as if a great burden had been lifted from me. I searched for his name on the internet and genealogical websites, but found no information.

Once in a while I would open the yearbook to see what would happen, but nothing did again. Something urged me to donate it to a local Senior Center. Someone there might have gone to the same high school the yearbook came from or know someone who did. Before I donated it I wrote the young man’s name on a piece of paper and tucked it inside the book on the page with his high school picture. Without receiving his image I never would have known who the yearbook belonged to. If alive today, he’d be an old man. To me he’s still a kid from 1944.

Observations

The Type  is Visualized, Residual, and Material  because I saw a visualized mental image of the young man. The yearbook had absorbed his energy at a crossroads between the past of his youth and an unknown future.

It is a Level 2  because I felt his emotions, but did not have a physical reaction to them.

Time of Encounter: Between 6:00 pm-7:00 pm, evening.

While I was experiencing the emotional transference I was able to separate myself from it and analyze what was happening to me. This is the first time I’d been able to do this. I believe this is because of similar experiences I’ve had. When I received the image of the young man, it was a color copy of the black and white yearbook photo, showing me dark brown eyes and brown hair.

The emotions went away at the moment I found his picture and name. Was the picture from a happier time and the sadness, and fear from a young man forced to go from high school to war? Was he afraid of dying in a foreign land and being forgotten? When the emotional transference was over I sensed it had been released and was no longer attached to the yearbook.