Authenticity should be the central part of our everyday life. Being authentic means following your heart and your beliefs in any situation, being true to yourself and showing who you really are. When my stay in Sri Lanka came to an end I already reflected a lot about this, comparing the Western world to what I have had the chance to experience here. The people I have met in Sri Lanka seem to be so much more authentic, real and much more human than back home. When someone says or does something nice for me, I catch myself asking myself “What is their intention? What do they want from me?” and I have never found any second thought or any expectations of getting something specific in return. Why do I have that mechanism to question people’s intentions. I nearly feel embarrassed in such situations as I have not often experienced this before.

As I was in Sri Lanka for my 30th birthday, which I had dreaded since I turned 20, I didn’t expect much to happen but when I arrived I was asked to give my birthday to them to arrange things. I was only supposed to show up. As on so many occasions I had to let go of any control over what was going to happen.

I had to learn to be open and flexible a lot more, as I completely dove into many different cultures later and their lifestyles, and I can tell you, not being able to control everything was very hard for me in the beginning. After some time, I started to manage very well and even enjoyed not having the permanent stress of having to organise and plan. I knew I could have absolute trust in the people around me and so I let go and even offered the ones in Sri Lanka my birthday.

I was overwhelmed with what happened on that day. I was welcomed and fed with the traditional milk rice breakfast, then about 15 people cooked for my personalised Almsgiving at the temple for which they had invited 7 monks. At that point I was already thinking of how I could thank them for all of their effort. Then in the afternoon, I was welcomed by my students with a lot of flowers, dancing, singing and skits they had written themselves. Also the main women’s leaders had prepared a few skits imitating their own children coming to my classes and me in class. I was overwhelmed by all the nice acts and words for me. Why would anyone do something like that for me? Just like that?

Letting go of all the outside expectations of who you are suppose to be and how you are supposed to act has been replaced by unconditional acts. People doing things and acting just because it feels good. A great heart-warming experience which I was not used or didn’t see happening at home just because I was too occupied with my own so-called important life. I am sad to have thought like that but at the same time very thankful to have been among such an open-hearted society for a while.

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