From Marcel T.: Mark, from the deepest part of me… your Kilimanjaro story moved me to the last fiber of my being.

My immense gratitude for showing me that limits are there to be pushed as far away as possible. Maybe it gives to each of us the reason why we spend some time on this earth… to climb our own Kilimanjaro. Thank you, brother!

From Mark M.: I just read Mark’s Kilimanjaro climb and was extremely impressed.

My greatest test of will occurred in 1998 at the age of 48. I was climbing a tree to a deer stand. A climbing board broke and I fell to the ground, pinioning my tibia and shattering the fibula of my right leg. I was alone and over one-quarter mile from the nearest road. As I could not walk, I had to drag myself on my back—bridging myself with my right arm and pushing with my left leg.

I hit the ground at 12 p.m. and arrived at the road around 6:30 p.m. By then, I had lost approximately 15 pounds, mostly fluid. I was finally found about 9:30 p.m. and landed on the roof of Vanderbilt Hospital at midnight.

Like Mark, I was not focused on the end. Instead, I focused on the next 6 inches and then another 6 inches until, at last, I reached the road.

Thank you for inspiring me to write this. I rarely talk about it.

Reeves’ Comment: Mark, that is true grit. Thank you for sharing with the PBRG community. It’s helpful to remember what true determination really entails.

From Phillip W.: Mark, I found your story about the “what, with whom, and where?” (Choosing the Best Possible Life) to be one of the best I have ever read. I sincerely believe your comment, “but the path, in retrospect, seems half accidental,” to be the most accurate of any spoken on this subject.

That has been my life; one filled with adventure and excitement, a lot of time away from family and friends. I had great plans for myself, wonderful ideas… and then life got in the way.

I could not find the path I wanted… and took the path that seemed to evolve in front of me! Wow, I did not really recognize it until I read your article. It was eye-opening. Everyone should read this.

From Andrew I.: I really resonated with your essay on how to choose the best possible life, Mark.

I’ve achieved a lot in many different industries. On September 11, 2001, I found myself rising up a corporate ladder I hated. What a wake up call… I felt I could have died that day in a job I hated!

I started working four days per week with a pay cut so I could spend time composing music. They finally cut me loose… which was exhilarating and terrifying!

The hardest thing since has been my mindset. Taking full responsibility and learning to make choices of where to focus time and energy has not been easy. I even went into debt with the wrong assumption that, since it’s for the business, it’s okay. I was trying to compete in an industry (music) that was being gutted by technology. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way.

But I’ve crafted a new life (debt-free) where I spend mornings writing and afternoons teaching music. I’ve chosen my clients, and all is good. Now I just need to increase the revenue streams! A little stuck but exploring…

Thanks again for the inspiration.

Reeves’ Comment: Thanks for your letters, gents. We’ve received a ton of great feedback on this essay. Your own stories continue to inspire and instruct others. Thanks again for contributing your own insights to the PBRG community.

Is your portfolio prepared for rising interest rates? It’s already begun. Please share your biggest concerns with the market, right here.