When does our mind really mature and think like adults? Is it different for each gender?

The Silk Road

Humanity has produced three great civilisation clusters: the Mediterranean-European, the Indian and the Chinese-Japanese.
Humanity has produced three great civilisation clusters: the Mediterranean-European, the Indian and the Chinese-Japanese.
Over the centuries they spread beyond their original boundaries, absorbed and civilized barbarian invaders, replaced or overlaid tribal cultures...
Over the centuries they spread beyond their original boundaries, absorbed and civilized barbarian invaders, replaced or overlaid tribal cultures...
and affected each other in ways that continue to be unpredictable. Ethnic, linguistic and religious links between these clusters have existed for centuries...
and affected each other in ways that continue to be unpredictable. Ethnic, linguistic and religious links between these clusters have existed for centuries...
in spite of the vast distances that separated them. The conquests of Alexander the Great increased exchanges in both directions...
in spite of the vast distances that separated them. The conquests of Alexander the Great increased exchanges in both directions...
and led also to the important artistic exchange - the adoption of the figure of Apollo as prototype for the human representation of Buddha.
and led also to the important artistic exchange - the adoption of the figure of Apollo as prototype for the human representation of Buddha.
After the Alexander, the Byzantine empire and later the Muslim world continued to act as conducts between East and West.
After the Alexander, the Byzantine empire and later the Muslim world continued to act as conducts between East and West.
China was much further away, a long way from India, separated by massive mountain ranges and both ethnically and linguistically completely foreign.
China was much further away, a long way from India, separated by massive mountain ranges and both ethnically and linguistically completely foreign.
India was such a fertile breeding ground for religions. China's two-home grown and complementary systems (Confucianism and Taoism)...
India was such a fertile breeding ground for religions. China's two-home grown and complementary systems (Confucianism and Taoism)...
found in Buddhism, which had evolved into a religion in India, a missing link.
found in Buddhism, which had evolved into a religion in India, a missing link.
Buddhism spread to China by merchants travelling between these regions.
Buddhism spread to China by merchants travelling between these regions.
Confucianism was an ethical doctrine used in China.
Confucianism was an ethical doctrine used in China.
Taoism originated from a primitive animism refined into a form of mysticism.
Taoism originated from a primitive animism refined into a form of mysticism.
Buddhism joined in the missing dots, someone and something worthwhile to believe in.
Buddhism joined in the missing dots, someone and something worthwhile to believe in.
The main route that led across the Eurosian continental mass was named the Silk Road.
The main route that led across the Eurosian continental mass was named the Silk Road.
It was never a paved carriage way like the Roman road system.
It was never a paved carriage way like the Roman road system.
More like a human equivalent of the pathways that ants find through or around obstacles...
More like a human equivalent of the pathways that ants find through or around obstacles...
and which, once marked, are followed invariably by followers.
and which, once marked, are followed invariably by followers.
This fascinating human trail...
This fascinating human trail...
When you ponder the hardship, danger and loneliness of these vast empty spaces...
When you ponder the hardship, danger and loneliness of these vast empty spaces...
alternating between extremes of heat and cold...
alternating between extremes of heat and cold...
of boredom...
of boredom...
and sublime.
and sublime.
In these harsh conditions, one easily imagines strangers sitting around a fire sharing a meal.
In these harsh conditions, one easily imagines strangers sitting around a fire sharing a meal.
Arguing whether there is a single providence that shapes their ends.
Arguing whether there is a single providence that shapes their ends.
Or whether the cosmos is the theatre of an eternal struggle between good and evil.
Or whether the cosmos is the theatre of an eternal struggle between good and evil.
Or whether indeed all suffering is merely an illusion produced by desire and fear.
Or whether indeed all suffering is merely an illusion produced by desire and fear.
The first main line of the East-West route was Xi'an in China. In the Tang Dynasty the biggest city in the world.
The first main line of the East-West route was Xi'an in China. In the Tang Dynasty the biggest city in the world.
A community of Christians and Chinese lived there as it is evident on the 8th century old stone slab inscribed with Chinese characters and Christian symbols.
A community of Christians and Chinese lived there as it is evident on the 8th century old stone slab inscribed with Chinese characters and Christian symbols.
Since the invention of writing 5 000 years ago we used clay and wax tablets, papyrus and then parchment, made of sheep or goat skin, which began to spread in the Christian era.
Since the invention of writing 5 000 years ago we used clay and wax tablets, papyrus and then parchment, made of sheep or goat skin, which began to spread in the Christian era.
The Chinese invention of paper and spread around by the Silk Road, was adopted first in the Islamic world...
The Chinese invention of paper and spread around by the Silk Road, was adopted first in the Islamic world...
then Europe where large-scale manufacture was established by the middle of the 15th century.
then Europe where large-scale manufacture was established by the middle of the 15th century.
The adoption of paper in the Islamic world led to an extraordinary blossoming of scientific knowledge.
The adoption of paper in the Islamic world led to an extraordinary blossoming of scientific knowledge.
The adoption of paper in Europe made possible the invention of printing that revolutionised human knowledge.
The adoption of paper in Europe made possible the invention of printing that revolutionised human knowledge.
Tarfur was another great centre on the Silk Road, where precious perfume oils were traded.
Tarfur was another great centre on the Silk Road, where precious perfume oils were traded.
Samarkand, another stop on the Silk Road, before the Muslim Conquest was the capital of the Iranian Sogdians, who were great weavers, just like Chinese.
Samarkand, another stop on the Silk Road, before the Muslim Conquest was the capital of the Iranian Sogdians, who were great weavers, just like Chinese.
The exchange of formal decorative motifs between Persia and China through the Silk Road transformed the weaving techniques forever.
The exchange of formal decorative motifs between Persia and China through the Silk Road transformed the weaving techniques forever.
Baghdad in the glorious age of Harun-al-Rashid and the following centuries was in the striking contrast with the pitiful state of Europe after the fall of Rome.
Baghdad in the glorious age of Harun-al-Rashid and the following centuries was in the striking contrast with the pitiful state of Europe after the fall of Rome.
In the West, originally barbarian people such as the Franks and Anglo-Saxons were trying to rebuild civilisation from the ruins while under siege from new and more savage barbarians.
In the West, originally barbarian people such as the Franks and Anglo-Saxons were trying to rebuild civilisation from the ruins while under siege from new and more savage barbarians.
In the East there was a cultural environment effervescent with the spirit of intellectual enquiry and making spectacular progress in all directions - astrolabe, water clock, scientific diagrams...
In the East there was a cultural environment effervescent with the spirit of intellectual enquiry and making spectacular progress in all directions - astrolabe, water clock, scientific diagrams...
The scholars as the Persian Avicenna, Abd-Rahman al-Sufi between 1100 and 1200 translated scientific works from Arabic into Latin thus starting the age of Scholasticism...
The scholars as the Persian Avicenna, Abd-Rahman al-Sufi between 1100 and 1200 translated scientific works from Arabic into Latin thus starting the age of Scholasticism...
The Islamic civilisation declined from its golden age in the 13th century and subsequently remained ossified while Europe went on to create the modern world. The Silk Road lost its purpose and disappeared under dust.
The Islamic civilisation declined from its golden age in the 13th century and subsequently remained ossified while Europe went on to create the modern world. The Silk Road lost its purpose and disappeared under dust.
The road is gone, the ants and insect are making new pathways, slowly and patiently just like centuries ago, looking for their home...
The road is gone, the ants and insect are making new pathways, slowly and patiently just like centuries ago, looking for their home...
between the rocks and hard places...
between the rocks and hard places...
while our children are moving faster and faster...
while our children are moving faster and faster...
they have no time or patience to follow those tiny footsteps...
they have no time or patience to follow those tiny footsteps...
they follow their big dreams travelling on wide, well-lit and fast-paced highways...
they follow their big dreams travelling on wide, well-lit and fast-paced highways...
but we know when their time comes they will forge their way through and around obstacles,
but we know when their time comes they will forge their way through and around obstacles,
and which, once marked, will be followed by others after them...they will create new future between rocks and hard places.
and which, once marked, will be followed by others after them...they will create new future between rocks and hard places.
and to answer THE QUESTION: From the Industrial and Technological Revolution children take up the grown-ups roles later and later. Before the children's brains matured in the age of 7 now it is in 27.  The gender bias is of our own creation...
and to answer THE QUESTION: From the Industrial and Technological Revolution children take up the grown-ups roles later and later. Before the children's brains matured in the age of 7 now it is in 27. The gender bias is of our own creation...

"This fascinating human trail,"

our Chinese teacher told us

in Russian,

the language we all knew,

"was never a paved

the way like the Roman roads were."

We had been just 12-years old,

a group of Senior School students

on the exchange tour,

living in Xi'an in China,

in a communist commune

helping local children

to work on fields,

collect wood

and walk few miles every day

to the nearest school,

part of it on the Silk Road.


"The first main line of the east-west route

with four greatest centres: Xi'an, Tarfur,

Samarkand and Baghdad,

started just here,

built by the Tang Dynasty,

our city was the biggest in the world."

We covered our ears

our teacher was writing fast

a white chalk squeeked on a blackboard

and her voice rose above it in a high pitch:

"Write it down fast and then go home to pack up."

We looked around

confused

but our Chinese classmates

just kept

their heads down

copying the signs fast.

"Li and Su go and collect the provisions from our communal kitchen,

just for two days,

Chong you pick up mats and blankets from our gymnazium,

we make a bundle for each person to carry their own."

When they quickly left

the teacher noticed us and smiled:

"I want you to experience

how was it to be a Chinese merchant in those days."


We left when dawn was just breaking up

struggling on the rocky path,

in one long line,

on the main route that led across

the Eurasian continental mass,

the hardship, danger and loneliness

of these vast empty spaces

scared us.

We walked all day

stopping just for a quick drink,

never used to

extremes of cold and heat,

many of us felt sick,

tired and hungry,

all at once,

we sat down in a middle of the dust

crying out that we want to go home.

Our Chinese schoolmates just passed us,

without looking behind,

no pity just disgust in their eyes.

Our teacher, who was leading us,

came back and towering above

in her high pitched voice

ordered us to move on

or we just die here.


It was pitch dark again

when we noticed in a distance

a welcoming flame of small fire.

Our Chinese friends pointed at it

with a big smile,

but our teacher was gone.

Shivering with cold and fear

stumbling through that unfamiliar place

holding our hands

we tried to follow the footsteps

of Chinese friends

disappearing

in a quickening pace.

Until there was no one there

except us,

six lost children

bundled up together in a foreign land.


When we stumbled upon our camp,

still holding our hands,

exhausted and hungry,

tears smudged all over

our dusty cheeks,

our teacher ran to us

hugging us tightly

followed by our class

cheering us up

with their noisy fire-crackers.


Filling our tummies

with many and more plates

of delicious food,

warming up next to a high-piled fire

we asked our teacher

what for was all that suffering.


She looked around

on all those big and innocent eyes,

reflecting in the light of fire,

full of questions

that no one can answers.

In amazing silence

in her hands

appeared

a single small cocoon.

Finding the end

she slowly unwound

one long thread of silk.


"As you experienced,

the Silk Road was never a paved carriage way,

like the Roman road system,

but more like a human equivalent of the pathways

that ants find through or around obstacles,

and which, once marked,

are followed invariably

over and over,

this fascinating human trail,

do you know that you make similar pathways,

every time you experience something new

in your brain?"


We looked at her

more confused than before.

She unwound another thread of silk

from another small cocoon,

holding both

for all of us to see,

she explained:

"There are two

different

systems

in your brain

that interact

to turn you all

into adults

but your brain needs exercising,

just like your body does."

Our teacher gently laid down the threads

and clapped her hands,

to which our Chinese friends

started to recite from memory:

"Even small changes

can lead to big changes

in who we become..."


The best student in our class,

Li put his hand up

and shouted from the bottom of his lungs:

" The first system has everything to do

with emotion and motivation,

the area of the brain that responds to rewards."


"Just like you, Li, always desperate to be first,

to be the best..."

Su spitted out angrily, but the teacher laughed:

"Why do you think, Li is like that?"


"I don't know," Su shook her head.


"Because he wants your respect,

the respect of his peers,"

the teacher looked up on the suddenly quiet crowd:

"His brain slowly preparing him

towards his future

that he will share

with all of you

leaving the home of his family

starting to make

his own way

in the world of equals."


"What about the second system?"

Someone shouted out,

but I was too tired to hear the answer,

falling asleep next to the fire,

dreaming about today,

the day I suddenly grew up.


Li enthusiastically updated me,

on that system in our brains

on our way back to school the next day,

that was not so horrific any more:

"It's to do with control,

it channels and harnesses

all that seething energy.

You learn to make better decision

by making not so good decisions

and then correcting them.

Expertise comes with experience."


"Do you understand all of that?"

I asked surprised following him on the rocky path.

"Sort of," he shrugged,

but then he turned back,

beaming with smile:

"But I will one day, everything is here,"

he tapped his head with his finger:

"The systems of motivation and control

are under control."


-------------------------------


Nearly forty years later,

on the other side of the world,

I took my 14-years old son

to see the play,

I thought,

each teenager should see.


"Didn't like that romantic bits," he yawned,

"Just that bit of fighting and why it took them so long to die?"


"Shakespeare wrote it

five hundreds years ago,

the life was different then,"

I replied impatiently trying to explain:

"But it is still relevant,

the intense combination of first love

and peer-induced risk

could be tragic today,

just as yesterday."


"No one would die today,

for stupid love, you know,"

he mumbled checking his iPhone.


"And yet,

if not for fate,

13-years old Juliet

would be married

and having children

of their own

within a year or two."


"You are joking,"

he shook his head already lost in his digital world.


On our way home,

we stopped by,

in my sister's house:

"What happened to my gifted

imaginative

child

excelling through high school

then dropping out of college

drifting from job to job

ending up in his parents' house again?"

She greeted us with tired eyes,

loud music with bits of swearing and laughter

from the room next door

came to her

as an answer,

she just waved her hand:

"He has a drinking party again with his mates."


"He will grow out of it,"

her husband,

an automechanic by trade,

brought us some coke and cake:

"We've been even worse at his age,

if you think of the teenager's brain

as a car,

they acquire an accelerator

a long time before

they can steer and brake,

what can you expect?"


"I expect you to do something about that,

you are his Father," my sister shouted back,

visibly upset.


"Nowadays children reach puberty earlier

and adulthood later," I patted my sister

gently on her back.


"We used to cook meals,

look after our little sibblings,

assist uncle in the shop,

do all those kinds of tasks

we assumed we needed to know

to be grown-ups."


"It was different time and different era,"

I took her hand into mine.


"Our kids just go to school

and they come home,

No experience of trying to achieve

a real goal

in real time

in the real world."


I pointed at new iPad

and Mat using it

next to me:

"Our kids learn more

than ever before

IQ has increased

in ten-folds

we never catch up,

it is their digital world, you know..."


"But there are different ways

of being smart,"

my sister, a biologist by profession

replied suddenly:

"Experience shapes the brain

as brain is so sensitive to experience,

our experience that control our impulses

make the prefrontal cortex develop,

and thus

our social and cultural life

shapes our biology,

shapes us,

shapes our brain.

Are our children

victims

of our lost touch with reality?"


"Maybe he just got wrong genes, after me,"

her husband tried to lighten the atmosphere up.


"Is it true that girl's brain matures earlier than mine?"

My son put the iPad down suddenly interested.


"Of course, look at your aunty, she has always been smarter than me,"

laughed his ancle and they started to wrestle each other just for a bit of fun.


"Do not take notice of your uncle Mat, genes are just first steps,

in complex developmental sequences,

in myriads of interactions

between organism and environment

the adult brain is shaped,

both boy's and girl's one equally."


Even small changes in developmental timing

can lead to big changes in who we become.

The phrase from my long forgotten Chinese trip

suddenly came back to me.


" Come on, Mat hurry up, I think our next holiday destination will be China."


I rushed to my sister for a hug, but she was still lost in her thoughts:

"....with real responsibilities

we don't have to just accept

the developmental patterns

of adolescent brains

we can actually shape and change them,

but it is just a theory,

what did you say about China?"


"Anywhere but China, Mum, please,

what about Las Vegas or just Sydney,

I don't know anyone in Beijing."


"Xi'an it is called actually,"


"What 'an'? Never heard of it,

will be boring, boring..."


"Anything but boring, I can promise you that right now."

More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

KrisL profile image

KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

This is fascinating . . . the connection of past to preseent, youth to maturity . . . thanks.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

thanks KrisL, you are really fast, just finished writing it, it is early morning in our parts so I am better go to sleep:)


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

I culdn't get into the prose-poem, but the pics were great, you must have quite a library. Pity they couldn't be expanded on that format as I am a bit hard of seeing!

Great effort again Beata.

Bob


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Sorry Bob, that I have made it harder for you to follow 'the silk thread' through my story in words and images...I just tried to put 'some obstacles' on your road to discovery - to find my answer for that particular question. I think my brain matures at that age of 12 in Xi'an on my own 'Silky Road of self-discovery', that was the reason I took my son there as well 40 years later....

As for the pictures, I travel constantly and take camera with me wherever I go, sorry for the small format, but many pictures are of the real people, I don't want to and have no intention to make 'more recognizable' than necessary, the pictures are just there to capture the mood of the story:)


Skarlet profile image

Skarlet 4 years ago from California

Absolutely beautiful. Voted up


Dancilla profile image

Dancilla 4 years ago from El Paso

Great hub! Voted up!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thanks my fellow hubbers with a great imagination, happy that you have been able to follow my silk thread through two stories in images and words:) All the best with hubbing and hopefully you stop by sometimes later again:)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Beata, you take us through so many scenes of life as you experienced it. You're truly gifted. Thanks for sharing the stories and the photos.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank MsDora, I am very honoured to receive such a nice comment from you, all the best from Beata


Angel198625 profile image

Angel198625 4 years ago

the stories and photos were great! Good hub!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you so much, Angel that you find the time to stop by...have a great time in writing paradise:)


dyptique 4 years ago

That was a beautiful and very moving story. I would love to share it with my 17 year old, but would he really "read" it. Thank you!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Possibly not, my kids do not read my stories, there is time for everything, our children need to come to our age to see the world how we see it now, we haven't seen it this way before either...but if the parents of the growing up children read it and 'it opens some door for them'...it is enough for me:)


vonda g nelson 4 years ago

Love your hub as well as the pictures.....although I do not have children, I believe in letting them be who they are, they are bound to blossom into individuals that will amaze us. Even though I do not have my own children I have taken care of many cousins throughout the course of my life. Some I have been more attached to than others and the one thing I can say is if the parents aren't an "example" the children will following suit with all that they see them do and hear them say. It takes a special child to do differently. You'll be surprised at how a childs mind matures. I'm kinda off topic but as for our minds maturing, if the truth be told it's waiting on our productive "input" that will have it behave and think maturely.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Very true, dear vonda, very true and thank you so much for stopping by, looking forward to hear from you again:)


DDE profile image

DDE 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Awesome Hub you have such a mind of writing most impressive thanks


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my fellow hubber and fellow Croatian, happy you liked it and looking forward to hear from you again:)

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