Benefactoring

I’m not sure this title is actually a word, but I wanted a verb. “Bene”, meaning “good”. “Fact”, like making it real, or physical. “Or”, the suffix indicating the person who does, in this case making good real. “Ing”, doing it. Sometimes I read about artists and poets who had benefactors, such as Rilke, and have thought that I wish I had a benefactor. There is so much “bene” that I want to do, and finances are a weird “fact” and I’m the only “-or” to find the way to pay the bills, so I try to bring both “bene” and “factor” into my “ing.” But it is hard. We all know that.

I have loved to be generous when I felt able, to be benefactor, some small source in the lives of artist friends and others who simply need it, in my own modest way. Now I give away time more than money for necessary reasons.

 This afternoon I talked with Agnes Musau, the woman who founded the Drug Fighters School that we just worked at, benefactoring, in Kibera, Kenya. She is raising 6 babies in her own little home, 5 of them rescued – meaning if you find a baby someone abandoned in the rain in a ditch and nobody wants it, what are you going to do? Only one of hers is a biological child. She has 6 children at home and 260 at the school in Kibera, all of whom she is comitted to feeding, protecting and educating and no one is paying her. She needs bene-fact-or-ing. She might get kicked out of her home, she and the 6 children, since rent is overdue. She is behind on paying employees, who have families and need to be paid for similar reasons, she has been sick for a week. I just talked with her, and she said it made her feel so much better just that someone called. She said the babies are jumping around playing, they are “angels” she says, they know nothing.  They are just happy.

So now I, who feels like I need a benefactor, want to figure out how to benefact; be the -or and do the -ing. Need inspiration.

I remember hearing Joseph Campbell in a taped lecture commenting upon a story he had read in the newspaper about a man who had grabbed the hand of another man as he began to fall from a bridge or high building, I can’t remember which. The man who was holding the hand might have fallen himself and they both would have died, but he would not let go. Interviewers asked him about this afterward, why he was willing to give up his life when it looked like he would be pulled in if he didn’t. The fellow could only say that at that moment the connection was the only thing to focus upon, it was more important than anything. He couldn’t let go.

Agnes is surely feeling this. And I’m feeling it now. Need inspiration.

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