Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rise Above Your Raisin'

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." -- Sir Isaac Newton

If you've never heard the therm "rise above your raisin'" before, it may sound peculiar, but I swear I'm not talking about these kinds of raisins:

and I'm also not trying to insinuate that your parents didn't do a good job of  teaching you to be an upstanding citizen - which may or may not be the case, depending on your personal situation.  I'm not even trying to go there.

Here's where I AM going to go:  It drives me NUTS to hear adults use the term "That's how I was raised." as an excuse for behavior or habits that do not serve them.  We are each responsible for creating the type of lives that we want to have, and we learn all sorts of new behaviors that our parents didn't teach us, discarding some that no longer fit our lifestyle or way of thinking.  THEN, when challenged to change a harmful or limiting behavior, some people immediately reach for: "That's how I was raised."  I guess that's supposed to be a conversation-stopper.  Can't talk about people's Mamas, right?  Hmph.

This is not about your Mama or your Papa.  In passing their knowledge and morals on to you, they did what they were supposed to do.  Now that you're an adult, it's time to figure out how much of that you want to keep, what you need to put into a box and save under the bed for times when you need it, and what to toss into a hole and set on fire.  Funny thing is that I've noticed that things that my parents taught me as a child no longer even fit with what THEY believe today.  They are changing and evolving, even as I am.  Yours are too.

"That's how I was raised" is not a way to pay homage to your mom or dad's great parenting skills, it is a cop-out.  Just say "My mama did it this way 35 years ago, and I'm too unmotivated to find a way that suits me better."  At least that's honest.

How about taking what your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents taught you one step further?  That's much more useful to humanity than standing in stagnant pool of  "My mama told me to stand in this spot."  She may have told you that at 4 in order to keep you safe.  I'm sure she didn't expect you to still be in that spot at 40.  So. Not. Cute.

The evolution of ourselves is not an abandonment of our elders.  If we didn't have the knowledge that they have passed down to us, we would still be trying to invent the wheel and figure out how to start a fire.  We are building on the gems that they imparted to us.  We are standing on their shoulders in order that we might see even farther into the distance and discover things they were only able to imagine.



elephant photo by Chris Eason, aka "Mister-E" on Flickr


  1. Regarding "That's How I Was Raised", I agree with you. I was raised to put butter on a burn but I later learned not to do that. I was raised to leave dyed Easter eggs in a big bowl on the dining room table (as a centerpiece), until all the eggs were eaten. Sometimes it would take close to 2 weeks and thank God nobody ever got sick. I've learned not to do that. I was raised to believe that if your slice of bread had a little mold on it, to pinch it off and it was good as new; or if your grains had a weavil in it to just pick it out and use it anyway. Not me, not in this lifetime. What was once common practice is not anymore because of learning, and economics. I was also raised to believe that "when you know better, you do better"!!!! That is one statement that will always hold true!

  2. Ewwww @ the mold & the weevil - but that's exactly right: we all do the best we can, and when we know better, we do better.

    Thanks for this!

  3. My motto is "it's the job of each generation to be better than the last". I've actually told my husband to put that on my grave. I came up with it one day when my mom said something that surprised me. First shock was it was a complement and not a put down. Second was oh wow how do I reply to this cause if I say "I know." That's gonna go badly. She said."you're a better mom than I ever was." Since agreeing would probably start a fight which she may have been trying to do. I said "well aren't I supposed to be?"

  4. I happen to think the phrase "You've got to rise above your rasin'" is charming. It means that you need to lift yourself up from ignoance and enlighten yourself.


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