Monday, December 7, 2015

Magic and Money

I've published two volumes of short stories from the files of the Fairy Godmothers'Union, True Love Local and a full-length novel, 'Wonder Guy,' (Kensington's Lyrical Press) in which his fairy godmother grants super powers to grad student Greg Roberts -- just so he can impress the girl next door.   

When I have the opportunity, I like to ask people what they would wish for from a fairy godmother. It shouldn’t surprise me that so many people mention the same things. High on the list is healing – whether for an ailment of one’s own or for loved ones suffering from cancer or other diseases. 

Many people also wish for relief from difficult circumstances, and for peace, and protection for their families in an uncertain world. 

I might have expected more people to wish for money, and am glad to see so many who think first of the more immediate, human needs that money only exists to serve. 

Money often seems to be the real world’s substitute for fairy godmother magic. Money can make the difference between receiving vital medical treatment and medication – or not receiving them. Money can pay for a military, for guns and security systems. It can provide food to the hungry – if there’s someone around who has grown and harvested that food. It can pay for transportation to carry us half-way around the world to visit distant friends and family, it can provide housing and clothing and essential services and pure luxuries… all depending on and presupposing the caring, hard work and ingenuity of the people who produce the goods and who provide the services… 

Money only seems like magic. The real magic is in the people, in us; the money is a symbol representing the value of what we can do to change the world.  

Money can help with some difficulties, but it can’t return a loved one who has died. The laying on of currency won’t cure the common cold, let alone a cancer. Money can help pay for medical research because it helps support the people with the drive, intelligence and training to do that research. Money can help support the people who care enough to work with those who are stricken by accident or disease, but the magic is in those people who care and dedicate their lives to that work. 

It’s when we start thinking about the things money can’t buy that we come close to understanding this true magic. If money were the most valuable thing, why would we spend so much of it trying to extend the life of a sick dog or cat that’s only bound to die eventually anyhow? Or heck, why spend it on anything that doesn’t add to the bottom line of our own finances? Why buy books or music, games or artwork, why spend money on any but the most utilitarian of clothing? 

Clearly, people are only willing to part with money because there are things we value more: life and health and the safety and well-being of our loved ones, friends and communities – just to begin with. When basic needs are met, we value beauty and meaning and amusement. Books and stories are important to me because they remind me of just how much I value being involved with people – even imaginary people in imaginary worlds.