A Blessing Well Disguised
CreateSpace Independent Publishing (2014)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (05/15)
“A Blessing Well Disguised” is the memoir/biography of artist, Lloyd Burlingame. At the highest point of his career in the art world, Burlingame discovered that he had a hereditary eye disease that would lead to blindness. The shock of receiving this prognosis forced him to confront his identity as an artist, a person of independence, and an educator. All of these identities required him to rely on being a person with vision. Deciding to enter into Jungian analysis, the author hoped to regain search for the meaning behind this experience. He also began to delve into his childhood and the relationship that he had with his dysfunctional father. He had a harder time seeking the meaning behind his homosexuality and dealing with the idea that it was something he needed to accept, rather than to try to fix.
As Burlingame went through therapy, the therapist used his artwork and dreams to analyze what was going on in his subconscious so that he could have a better understanding of his experience. The relationship with this therapist lasted for many years. This helped Burlingame adapt to the changes that he needed to make in his life as the disease progressed. In doing so, he was able to have a fulfilling career and he learned to accept the vulnerability that he felt when he had to trust in the capabilities of a guide dog to help him get around. Instead of falling into despair over his loss, Burlingame was very determined to focus on what he could do while he still had the ability. This enabled him to produce some beautiful artwork, and in doing so, he came across different methods that would allow him to continue to make his work meaningful. This included quilt making. His guide dogs also taught him about the depth of unconditional love. Working together, he was able to get around and meet some special people that otherwise would not have come into his life. In hindsight, he discovered that what he had viewed as a tragic event was actually a blessing in disguise.
Reading Lloyd Burlingame’s memoirs in “A Blessing Well Disguised,” held many lessons for me. Working with people who have disabilities, I have come across many who have accepted their losses and explained how their losses enriched their lives. Rather than drown themselves in anger and angst, they move on and focus on what they can do, rather than what they cannot. These discussions have always been incredibly moving, but, in this book, the author provides the full story of his life so that the reader can really gain an understanding of who he is both before and after he loses his sight. Sharing pictures of his artwork and the analyses and insight gained from his therapy really teaches some valuable lessons. It also piqued my interest in exploring Jungian therapy for myself. I highly recommend reading this incredibly moving autobiography.