It was beautiful. The waterfall cascaded down the mountain in a way that left people breathless. The flowers bespeckled the land with an ethereal majesty. The river, so blue, so enticing, even the gods could not resist the temptation of a swim. Yet, it wasn’t good enough. It could never be good enough. At least, not to Daniel Massey, the artist that painted this landscape.
“I’m my biggest critic,” said Daniel. “I always find things I could have done better.” This same statement has been muttered for thousands of years by successful artists, writers, and inventors of great skill. Inside all there is a certain spark of desire, or even a burning need, to prove their worth. If not to the world, then at least to themselves. As long as progress is being made, one has the ability to feel accomplished and proud.
Dan has no dreams of fame and glory. He doesn’t yearn to be recognized. If he did, he certainly wouldn’t be residing in rural Missouri. To Daniel, painting is a way to escape from his daily life. As a Union worker living with five children and an even a larger abundance of Great Danes, a moment of peace can be hard to come by. He doesn’t always know where his next paycheck is coming from, or if even the food stocked away in the pantry will last them until the end of the week. Yet, Daniel is forever assured in the presence of his paints. His brushes will always be there, tucked away, in times of need.
The Massey household is not alone though, in its struggle to provide. In the year 2012, 15% of American citizens lived in poverty. That’s forty-six and a half million people, living without the necessities needed for survival. One in five children is deprived of a childhood; the responsibility to supply shoved upon them at much too early an age. All because of their family’s financial status (“Poverty Facts”). Sadly, the majority of those children also don’t have a father as caring and supportive as Daniel. Growing up, Dan happened to be one of those unlucky kids.
When Daniel started honing his art skills as a youth in Olympia, Washington, the only motivation he had to paint was the reprieve it gave him from daily life. It’s not like his parents ever encouraged it. Dan’s abusive, alcoholic father seemed determined to destroy any flicker of hope, creativity, and confidence that dwelled inside his tiny being. Daniel was physically and mentally abused throughout his childhood, year after god-awful year. In America over three million children are affected by domestic violence every day. The consequences of this violence can be insurmountable, spreading like wildfire. Without a form of intervention, victims of abuse are more likely to behave aggressively and have a greater chance of eventually becoming abusers themselves. Because of this, many of imprisoned Americans imprisoned come from dysfunctional families ("Domestic Violence: Statistics & Facts").
An angel saved Daniel though, in the form of a...