Why are we here?

Dr. Sven Körbel, Sepideh Körbel, 14. May 2019

This question is quite legitimate. More than 20 years ago, I was standing in the wild land of Ecuador near the pacific and I asked myself this: What is all this about? At that time in Ecuador on the beach I did not know that it would be the beginning of a long inner journey. An inner journey that 20 years later gave me a gift that I could not have possibly imagined. An inner journey that has helped me to live the life of dreams. A life in which I only do what I am passionate about, what I love. This inner journey has led me to my center, – made me happy.

But before I tell you what happened during my personal journey to happiness, which adventures or developmental advances came to me, I first tell you about my personal zero or turning point in Ecuador. Which was also a developmental hint.

Have fun!

Sven Körbel in Ecuador 1988
Sven Körbel, 1998

Is that all? – Ecuador, Montañita

It was the end of 1998. I was standing on a lonely, almost untouched beach in Ecuador, staring at the sea. It was around noon. The sun shone from the cloudless, deep blue sky and blinded me. It was pleasantly warm. The beach was miles long, maybe a hundred feet wide and almost deserted. At the far end of the sand strip were some partially weathered beach huts with palm-leaf roofs in parallel to the sea. In the distance, on the ocean, I could see fishermen on their boats doing their day’s work. Every now and then a local man passed by. The waves were about a meter high and the zenith sun broke in them, so that they sparkled like diamonds. The scents of sea salt, wet sand and damp, musty algae mixed in my nose.

I was only twenty-seven and had achieved all that I had dreamed of before. I had emigrated to Ecuador, was the owner of the excellently running, notorious backpackers’ club “Arribar” in the capital Quito, where we had big parties and almost every night was bursting at the seams. I had managed to escape the pressure of permanent performance in Central Europe and, together with my business partner, had built up a small enclave in which each of us only had to work twelve days a month because we shared the service in our bar. But our job could not really be called work, as we put on music and occasionally gave a beer or a cocktail over the counter, when our employees could not cope with the onslaught.

The reward for my courage to emigrate were mostly beautiful weather, breath taking landscapes and many trips in my spare time. I had rented a fifteenth-floor penthouse suite in Quito with an enormous roof terrace and huge windows that gave me a 360-degree view of the entire South American metropolis. In the nightlife scene, I was known as a colorful dog and walked past the queues in front of the clubs to be joyfully shoulder-patted by the bouncers without paying.

It should have been a perfect day. If there had not been this incomprehensible thing, which robbed me of any illusion: the very realization of my dreams, which I had run after for so long, had plunged me into a deep crisis! Because: what was left to do now? Surprisingly, my goals did not satisfy me. My tormentors were still there: The inner emptiness, the tireless restlessness, the unlocatable sadness, a kind of missing but not knowing exactly what, a kind of yearning but not exactly grasping what and the question of the meaning of the whole, what here before our Eyes drain, which we call life. It was these pests that were the main components of the engine that brought me to South America. I wanted to get rid of them by fulfilling a liberal life. But this venture was obviously an illusion. I still felt lost in this cold lonely world. Just like Jim Morrison of “The Doors” in “Riders on the Storm” sang.

„Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm (…)“

I wondered what this was all about. A big stupid unhappy coincidence? We open our eyes and find ourselves on a ball rushing through infinity. Apparently without any hint whatsoever. My fellow humans kill each other for unnecessary and pointless power games. We, the privileged westerners, watch daily as thousands who have just as unsuspectingly opened their eyes on this globe starve to death in inexpressible suffering or die in mindless wars. We are all struggling and running after goals, more and more destroying our habitat and consuming the supposedly finite resources as if there were another planet around the corner. But why all this? What if all goals are achieved? If you suddenly hold the carrot that you have run after for years. So what? Even the greatest freedom at the butt of the world on an untamed continent could not satisfy me. More freedom and self-realization really did not work! The large amount with the many zeros in my Ecuadorian account was not a lasting comfort.

Thus, in spite of all self-realization, I desperately stood near the pacific and asked myself if that was all that life has to offer.