Money, Magnets and Magnanimity

Money, Magnets and Magnanimity
Money, magnets and Magnanimity, by Charles Kinney

Money, magnets and Magnanimity, by Charles Kinney

Money, money, money. A great ABBA song, or the root of all evil? The western world is in economic free-fall. The Chinese model of state capitalism seems to be winning. Where have we, and our love of money, gone wrong?

I’ve never had much of it, and there were times I wish I would’ve had more of it, but it all seems relevant to want. Money never slowed me down in my travels. 80 countries and counting, and all this from a boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Buffalo, NY, which is already on the wrong side of the tracks. Three households of furniture and stuff in my life, burnt, lost or given away, but that’s all it amounted to: just stuff. We can’t get stuff fast enough when we’re young. We can’t rid of it when we’re old. We lug it from place to place, in boxes, bags and bins, and then when we die, it all gets carted off again.

So out of 80 countries, and all that money spent on planes, trains and automobiles, the only true part of capitalism I’ve collected our magnets, the refrigerator type. I’ve somehow managed to keep my tribute to capitalism, the souvenir, intact throughout my 25 years of endless travel. They’re beautiful. My fridge groans with them. They’re a masterpiece of my life that I see everyday, my personal art collection that cost relatively nothing.

I have my favorites. The most battered but still loved is Buffalo, which seems to personify my hometown. Parliament in London, my first port of call many years ago. Washington, DC, lest I forget who I am, or that my country has done interminable bad, but also incredible good. A map of Ireland, where I put my mother’s ashes. Identification badges from the Holocaust in Germany, to realize how lucky I am to be born in this time, because as a gay man, I most certainly would be dead elsewhere. Our wedding photo in Norway, morphed into a Warholesque magnet, one of the proudest days of my life. The orange torii from Miyajima, Japan, where it dawned on me that I’m part of something much larger and not so alone. The castle in Edinburgh, a city where I remember how fun I am. Greenland, where I survived for two years and realized I could survive anywhere. Copenhagen, the city of cities and the place where I knew I didn’t have eternally wander if I didn’t want to. Miniature wine bottles from Georgia, my present home and latest passion. Slovenia, where I hope to retire someday.

We seem to have gotten a little lost, but we haven’t gone wrong. I’m sure I’ll die with perhaps a few cents in my bank account, but I hope I am much the better man because I see with traveled eyes. Seems a big waste to have heaps of money laying around when you could be out buying magnets.

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Charles Kinney, Jr. is married to a Norwegian, actively involved in the United States, and is currently based in the Republic of Georgia. He has written for publications in Greenland, Denmark, Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom. He has taught and lectured at universities and educational institutions around the world. He is currently on a two-year teacher-training assignment with the US State Department to the Republic of Georgia.

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