There is an old Cornish Proverb that says ‘Those who will not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock”. This is in reference to the strands of Cornwall England where so many ships were run aground or wrecked in the middle ages because they failed to navigate the passageways to get their ships safely to shore. The application to us is that if we do not listen to reason and or take control of our lives then we must suffer the consequences of just going wherever life takes us.
There is another way that this Proverb can read and that is “Those who will not be ruled by the rutter must be ruled by the rock”. What? You might say? Did I spell it wrong? Actually no and let me explain why. The word “rudder” means the vertical blade at the stern of a vessel that can be turned to guide the direction of the ship. The word “rutter” is actually a more little known word that most do not know. The word “rutter” as defined by dictionary.com as
“A descriptive atlas of the Middle Ages, giving sailing directions and providing charts showing rhumb lines and the location of ports and various coastal features.”
We may also want to define “rhumb” while we are at it: “A curve on the surface of a sphere that cuts all meridians at the same angle. It is the path taken by a vessel or aircraft that maintains a constant compass direction”.
A ship that is ruled by a “rudder” is one that is ruled by a physical or fairly rudimentary device that all ships have – they just don’t build them without them and if they did no one would buy them. The “rudder’ needs to be operated by someone to affect the ships direction and that “operator” needs to have the knowledge of “where” and “how” to turn the vessel to guide it safely to its destination.
The “rutter” really is the key to guiding the ship or vessel safely to its destination because the “rutter” or map is one that has a cumulative knowledge of those who have gone before on the same voyage and have recorded where the “rocks” and dangerous areas are and gives exact directions on the safest route to take to get to the desired destination. The “rutter” also directs the operator to the proper course to maintain a “constant compass direction”, which is important if you want to get to your destination in a timely manner and not be wandering all over the ocean!
The wisdom in this analogy is that unless we want to wander through life without a direction, a map, or “a rutter” of where we want to go then we will either never accomplish anything of any significance or the more dangerous consequence of this mind set is that we will be thrown mercilessly into the “rocks” of life and suffer greater loss, damage, death, or disease from failing to direct our lives in a safe and more desired direction!
Another famous quote to interject at this point would be:
“For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.” John Greenleaf Whittier quotes (American Writer, 1807-1892)
To look back on our life and see love, accomplishment, success, family, friends, and wonderful memories will fill us with satisfaction and happiness. To look back on a life filled with addiction will fill us with hollow, unsatisfying, emptiness.