While jogging recently along my usual path I was touched deeply by some treetops. Part of my route involves traversing a bridge that elevates to treetop level. On this particular day, the changing leaves, combined with the unusual vantage point, pried open thoughts of good endings.

Good endings? Yes, at the apex of the bridge only the treetops are visible. The roots, the ground, even the majority of the trunks of the trees can only be assumed, since they are shielded from sight. However, the treetops, in their blindingly beautiful assortment of reds, oranges, golds, browns, and purples, are vividly visible at this point.

Upon viewing this scene, why the end of my life suddenly occurred to me became apparent only after more jogging and more reflection. Like a cold blast of wind in my face, this truth seized all my senses with its profundity. The importance of one's life is measured not so much by its beginning but by how it ends. Peter Marshall, former chaplain to the U.S. Senate once said, "The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation." That has always been one of my favorite quotes and it was on my mind at that very moment.

The inspiration, keeping pace with my feet, caused me to realize that many of our daily moments of reflection should center on this basic truth. We should ask ourselves a simple question," What have I done today with my treetop, my end, in mind?"

Do not mistake this daily pause for self-reflection for a call to focus on morbid thoughts of your eventual (take a deep breath, it is highly unlikely that any of us is getting out of this alive) and inevitable demise. On the contrary, it is a moment to gather your thoughts, quiet your soul, and determine if you have taken any steps this day in deciding what you want your treetop to look like, eventually.

One of the beautiful things about being alive is that each one of us can choose what our treetop will look like. Maybe our roots, our family, our childhood, was not ideal, perhaps it was even a disaster. You still get to pick your treetop!

Our trunks and lower branches may be bent and misshapen, but they still do NOT determine our treetops. Did a divorce cause the trunk to bend and some of the branches to break off? Is a past or present broken heart responsible for the disfigurement of your trunk? Losing a child to drugs or early death can almost break even the mightiest oak in two.

Whatever has happened to you along your life's journey, whatever difficulties and disappointments you may have endured, no matter the condition of your roots, trunk, and lower branches-you can still choose what your treetop will look like! Another favorite Peter Marshall quote," When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure."

What will your treetop, your end, look like? Will it be an awe-inspiring array of a rainbow of colors? What meaning, what purpose, do you want your life to have?

Please remember this, if nothing else touches you in this piece, our loved ones, our family and friends, will remember our treetops long after they have forgotten the condition of our roots, our trunks, and lower branches. People who point to past mistakes and poor pedigrees are not worth a nanosecond of you or me pondering their opinions. What matters most is how we end the race, not how we start. Be encouraged today to consider your treetop. The ones who really count will be blessed you did and so will you!

Author's Bio: 

The acting and writing bug bit Michael at an early age, performing his first role as Peter Pan in a sweeping 3rd grade production. That early play became a catalyst for future leading roles in productions ranging from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ to ‘The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia’ to ‘Our Town’, and, his personal favorite, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Currently, Michael is playing the role of a detective in his first feature length film. He is a writer and is working on a book of his original poetry, as well as a novel. Additionally, he has done radio work, PA announcing at sporting events, and served many organizations as a motivational speaker. He is the founder of Final Word Solutions.

Michael is the proud father of three children and grandfather to two amazingly gifted and extraordinarily handsome grandsons! Taylor Nicole is a professional actress and lives in Santa Monica; CA. Clayton is a restaurant manager and also lives in Santa Monica. Cody is a Music Minister and is married to Kristin, parents to the aforementioned unsurpassed grandsons, Kailas and Conner. Michael’s greatest pleasure in life is playing with his grandsons, proving that he still NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wants to grow up!