When was the last time you experienced a deep, visceral yearning to do something completely in-congruent with the rest of your life?

Last weekend I went to see a stage production of “The Lion King.”  I’d seen it once before, years ago in San Francisco, before my trip to Africa was even a blip in my consciousness. At that time, I was mesmerized by the magic of the animals, the colors, and the music.

This time, the feelings it stirred are too deep for words.  The drums, hadidas circling over the grasslands, Rafiki’s chants in her mother tongue … they all penetrated my being until they reached the crack in my soul that was opened by my experience with the Zulu.

Valley of Green in KwaZulu-Natal

Going to work at a rural Zulu school in South Africa made no sense in relationship to the rest of my life.  I was a middle-aged white woman, living a comfortable life in the burbs of San Francisco.  I had just finished treatments for my breast cancer, been declared “cured” by my oncologist, and by all rational accounts, was entitled to kick back and take it easy.

But I was plagued by a gnawing sense that there was purpose to my life that had not yet been fulfilled.  Turning to my dreams for guidance, they clearly placed me in Africa working with women and children.  (You can read the whole story in my new book, Unlocking the Dream, FREE during the “Blogosphere Tour” by clicking HERE.)

Despite my best attempts to laugh off the messages and conjure a million excuses why it was impossible … I found myself living with Ruby in the midst of the Ndlela Zulu tribe, teaching English at the Zinti elementary school.  And now … four years later … I finally understand why.

Africa cracked open my soul.  It changed me at my core.  It gave me access to a part of myself I didn’t know existed. And that part of myself has now grown into a life that stretches beyond all my previous limitations: a book, work with the Rural Women’s Movement of South Africa, and a trip to the United Nations in the spring to address the Commission on the Status of Women.

Is it exciting?  Very.  Satisfying?  Deeper than you can imagine.  Comfortable?  Hardly ever.  Would I have it any other way? No.

Sitting at “The Lion King” the other night, I wanted to race off to Africa, to lie in the grass, listen to the birds, feel the pulse of the earth under my body, and hear the children sing.  Ruby’s World taught me too much to believe in the idyllic version of Africa.  But it taught me just the right amount to crack open my soul and shift my life to living “on purpose.”

The next time you feel an inexplicable, irrational, inconvenient urge to do something ridiculous with your life … take a moment to consider the possibility that your soul is asking for an opening into the world.  And if you follow that urge?  I want to hear from you.  I want to know how your soul cracked open.