Until I write my thoughts on this, here are some references.
One of the clearest sources for this material is the writings and speeches of Malidoma Patrice Somé. By being raised in an indigenous culture and by being educated in the “west,” he stands as a bridge connecting the wisdom of ancient cultures and the “modern.”
Malidoma is an initiated Elder into the Dagara Tribe of West Central Africa. He is also the holder of a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Sorbonne, and a second Ph.D. in English Literature from Brandeis. Author of many books, including Of Water and the Spirit and The Healing Wisdom of Africa he now travels the world providing workshops to share the traditional wisdom and spirit of Africa.
As I have learned, in the Dagara Tribe all children are believed to be born with the seed of unique genius within them. Each child is seen as potentially brilliant at something. I’ve learned to call this Purpose. If a person is acting out their unique purpose, they will feel energized and sense “meaning” in all they do. If you are not acting out what they are designed to do, they will often feel discouraged, depressed, and have a sense of “wasting their lives.”
It takes a community to help fertilize each person’s genius, and that genius takes form in relationship to that community. This back and forth connection can be found in phrases like “it is better to give than receive” and “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, better ask what you can do for your country.”
My belief is that when a couple begins to achieve success at forming a healthy community for themselves, this spark of genius will start to surface in both of them. It will awaken and needs to be nourished by both partners.