So, yesterday night I went to one of the famous Bier Gartens here in Munich. It is a nice place, at Wiener Platz, where they have lots of tables in an open space and several restaurants and bars around where we can get our food and beer. It’s been a long time since I didn’t do this, and it was very nice. Just sitting around, having some beer (or watching people have it because I did not dare to buy 1 liter for myself), eating appetizers an talking about life.
It was particularly different and interesting because of the people. Each one had a different story and opinion. Most of them are married or getting married soon and all are academics. What got me thinking was this guy that was saying how he kind of regretted getting married and having kids so late. He had his first child when he was 31, which did not sound so bad for me, but he was saying that he kept postponing it since he was always traveling a lot and moving to different cities because of his research. Now, for example, he still lives in another city than his family (wife and kids). He sadly said that he’ll probably not live to see his grandchildren getting married, and when his children do, he’ll probably not be able to dance in their marriage because of his age. That got me thinking. I found that most people from academia always liked studying, and keep doing this even after graduation, and, if they make any plans, is about the next post-graduation, or whether to get a job or not. And most people, like myself, never had plans for a personal life, like getting married or having kids. We usually think that this comes naturally, but it seems that it is naturally coming later and later. I have colleagues that are on their 30’s and starting the PhD now. Of course one could say that you should not stop your life because of studying and that it’s possible to have it all (I know people that do), but the thing is that a student does not get enough money for a proper marriage, honeymoon and all (I don’t know why people still think that this is strictly necessary… it’s surely nice, but anyway). Imagine having kids… kids are expensive and take time, and all PhD students are worried enough about all the research, reading, publishing, and since they never thought about family, they probably won’t start to at this point.
My point is, for several reasons, people tend to start a family later in life. And this guy was complaining and I was thinking how I sometimes look at my cousins that are married and have kids and wonder what my life would be like if I just wanted those simple things, and didn’t studied or worked so hard. Sometimes I even wish that I wanted, but the feeling goes away fast. Maybe they also look at me and wonder how’s my life like… who knows.
The conclusion I reached this morning was that times are changing, but they have always been changing. We cannot escape and think that things will be in a certain way forever. That everyone will get married, and that you will have a big family (I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they are not big anymore), and that the family can get together in your grandparent’s house (most of my grandparents don’t even live in a house big enough for so many people), and that you’ll see your children having kids and possibly your great-grandchildren… Once upon a time, the families lived close, in the same city or the same block, and this also is no longer the case. So, as I said, things change. All I can expect is to be happy with the time and life I have, whenever and whatever happens, without regrets.
This is a picture of the Englischer Garten, the place I need to cross to get to the university. The streams there have the clearest water I have ever seen. I think they clean it when there’s no one looking…