Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Which I Apply For A Job I Am Qualified For

I am applying for a job that asks for my skills! So what if it doesn't pay! Here is my letter. Should anyone know of any other jobs requiring my unique qualifications, please do let me know.

To the Executive Directors of Sacred Fire Community Organization:

My name is Tasha Diamant and when I read the qualifications required for the Co-Executive Director position I read a description of myself. I am writing to apply for that position. I believe I can bring depth, creativity, intelligence, and wisdom to the work you are doing.

“An ideal candidate for this position would have demonstrated ‘heart work’—through spiritual practice, healing work, or involvement with the Sacred Fire Community.”

The most public and visible manifestation of my heart work can be found at my website, humanbodyproject.com. Since 2006, for this ongoing performance art/activism project, I show up naked and unscripted to share an experience of vulnerability with my audience. I do the work in performance, in educational settings, and on the street. It is challenging for both my audience and me because our culture is built around avoiding vulnerability. The only route to the heart, however, is through vulnerability. I also believe that only through vulnerability will our brains evolve to deal with the current survival dilemma we now face as our old evolutionary tactics of domination—built now into a global culture of industrialized capitalism—no longer serve us.

I was called to do the Human Body Project in 2004. By called I can say that I knew in my whole being that I had to do it. I have learned so much since then. Now I can explain it rationally backwards and forwards if anyone would listen. It took me two years, however, to get up the guts to be naked. I still struggle with revealing my aging body and disrupting cultural norms. 

I’m 51. I am the mother of 5- and 10-year-old daughters. They are my heart and my love for them broke me wide open and woke me up. I do the work for them. The work is also deeply informed by them, as well as by my age or stage of life. To bring up children in this culture is to confront paradox every step of the way. I am not sure I would have noticed if I’d had my kids when I was 20 or even 10 years younger.

The Human Body Project is about healing and providing a cultural antidote. We are so deeply damaged by this culture. I have spoken of my own desperation for authenticity. I have spoken of the irony that to show up as an authentic human being, I need to stage a show. People are genuinely confused when they see me holding a huge sign that reads “VULNERABLE,” in the streets, while naked, in Canada (cold)! The connection between creating an insulated culture where we are able to pretend we aren’t vulnerable, but where we have actually made ourselves even more vulnerable by those very insulations (for one simple example, cars and global climate change) and, by the way, where we simply disregard huge chunks of the population who can’t figure out how to buy some insulation… is lost. Just the mere fact of a non-sexualized human body can be quite a wake-up call. 

But also my engagement with my audience is about facilitating heartful connection, as you can witness, if you are interested, in my film Tasha Diamant’s Human Body Project. I have been a natural teacher-facilitator since I lived and worked at Kriplau Center in the late 1990s. I now work as a university instructor in Victoria, BC.

I also acknowledge myself to be a person who has been committed to regular and ongoing spiritual healing work for decades. I have worked in many modalities and with many practitioners, since starting in the early 1990s with a Barbara Brennan-trained practitioner. Besides becoming a mother, my art practice (I was a seriously committed artist for ten years); my yoga practice as well as living and working at Kripalu Center; and, most recently, work with two Plant Spirit Medicine therapists, Elyse Portal and Donna Guillemin, have probably been the most important paths. I so appreciate the PSM work, which I feel on a very deep level of my being; I continue to do PSM sessions with Donna twice a month. 

Through Elyse, I became aware of the Sacred Fire Community and attended a Grandfather Fire with my family in Portland, Oregon, last summer. For both my husband and I, it was a very deep experience. My purpose, to “be the change” of moving the world beyond the domination paradigm through choosing vulnerability, and that of the Sacred Fire Community, to stand up for the sacred, are absolutely parallel and inseparable. Both, as Andrew Cohen writes, are part of evolutionary enlightenment as a collective emergence.

“This person should have a sense of the compelling need to bring more heart and Fire into the world.”

As I mentioned, it took me two years to get the courage up to be naked for my work in the Human Body Project. I come from an incredibly mainstream background where I was totally indoctrinated in all the damaging teachings that were readily available to an intelligent child born in 1961 in Calgary, Alberta, arguably the whitest and most conservative of Canadian cities. One that I struggle with on a profound level is the discomfort of being a non-conformist. I often say that I am a deeply conformist person but I just can’t find anything in my culture that I want to conform to. I also continue to struggle with body image issues. 

To say that showing up naked and intentionally vulnerable in public—not to mention explaining over and over what I do in personal and professional situations—is challenging for me is an understatement. The intentional vulnerability of the Human Body Project does not end when I get dressed. This work has brought up and continues to bring up every last little drop of rejection issue gunk my being possesses. But, as I wrote in this letter to my daughters, embarrassment (and pain) goes with the territory. I am committed and indeed compelled to do this work. I will continue to do the work until I die.

“They should also have experience with business management or other forms of leadership.”

I am an award-winning post-secondary instructor and have a Master’s degree in education. It was like a miraculous gift when, through my work at Kripalu Center, I learned that I was a natural teacher. I see leadership and teaching as very parallel callings. My job is to walk the talk; my job is to really see my students and facilitate and nurture who they are and what they have to offer; my job is to hold the (sacred) space. 

I have also been involved in forms of management in other incarnations. As part of the family business, I managed restaurants as a young woman. I led the daily programs team at Kripalu Center for a while, mentoring and hiring other workshop facilitators. As a journalist, I hired and edited free lancers. As my spirit has expanded and awakened I have found it very challenging to work within institutional structures that don’t resonate with my being. My leadership outlets have come to be focused on my work as a teacher and performer-activist.

“The job requires certain psychological aptitudes that might be summed up as a willingness to "sit in the fire"--i.e. to listen deeply, and be present for strong emotional expression.”

More than any of the other of the previous descriptions, I am your gal here. I am not aware of another person who has been able to sit in the fire as I have done and not take her own life or succumb to deepest addiction. When I see street addicts or think of kindred artists like David Foster Wallace or Diane Arbus or Frida Kahlo, I viscerally understand that I am millimeters away from that destiny. My job description from “Fire” or “God” (so far, I use the word “God” but I do not attach it to any dogma), as I understand it, is to show up unprotected even though I feel a desperate need for protection. This has looked like: lifelong emotional pain and more than two decades of illness. I gave up on help/diagnoses from the medical/psychiatric system long ago.

It is the paradox I address in the Human Body Project. Choosing vulnerability is the only way forward but we have built a culture and society on domination (and avoiding vulnerability; and, in middle class Western culture, for instance, pretending we aren’t living in a global culture of domination). So vulnerability is dangerous in reality and in conception. By that I mean allowing ourselves to be vulnerable can lead to actual harm but, what I believe most often occurs is that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable simply opens our being up to self-rejection. Therefore we can’t/won’t/don’t go there and re-create a cycle that is now destroying the earth. I also believe this process I describe is invisible to most people.

Spiritually, I believe I agreed to this assignment when I was born; publicly, since starting the Human Body Project. My pain is, in my view, a kind of processing of self-rejection for myself and for others. By allowing myself to be unprotected I am like a sewage treatment plant for the energy/karma/whatever-you-want-to-call-it of millennia of domination. Every fricking thing in the current paradigm is grinding its way through my being/body. And I allow this to happen having let go of any personal hope of ever, in this lifetime, being reconciled with my being's purpose/desire (term?) to be only open and heartful. It seems that there are people who can be quite open and heartful and live rather self-lovingly within this current "system" for various karmic/luck-related reasons but, for whatever purpose—and I think it's because, for privilege or pain or both, I happen to be one of "God's" excellent choices for a sewage treatment plant—my being is placed exactly at the intersection of the paradigms. 

I want to say that there are other sewage treatment plant humans out there. I know a few. I do not at this point, however, know any who would share my terminology. They are still trying to “get better.” I have dealt with illness and emotional pain for more than two decades and coming to terms with my job has not “cured” me but has helped me accept what is.

If that isn't sitting in the fire, I don't know what is.

“Good writing skills and the ability to speak in front of groups of people are also a plus.”

My writing skills are apparent here and on my website. I am a former journalist and former ad agency creative director and copywriter. I taught communication, art, writing, and, especially, public speaking for six years for which I won a 2010 Lethbridge College teaching excellence award. I now teach communication and media studies at Royal Roads University. I won the 2012 Canadian Association for the Study of Women in Education graduate student award for the writing I did about the Human Body Project for my Master of Education degree.

“A passion for community and other forms of collaboration and a sense of humor are essential!”

I deeply yearn for community but, to be honest, I have struggled to find it. My time at Kripalu Center was short-lived because I wasn’t able to accept certain ways the organization did business. I feel called to apply for this position not only because the job description describes me, but also because I am attracted to the Sacred Fire Community through what I have learned from Elyse, your website, and the fire I went to. I get that we have to try to make this work in the real world. I am told I can be blunt; I am going to speak up for, among other things, clarity, transparency, and honesty. I will do my best to avoid passive-aggression, which I see as part of my cultural baggage. I want to be called on it and I want to be able to call others on it. 

I believe I can bring incredible creativity, intelligence, depth, and wisdom to the work you are doing. In terms of lineage, though I have not felt a strong calling so far, I am open to discovering a connection to one or some of the traditions that I see on the Sacred Fire website. I do feel strongly drawn to join with people who are working with a connection to something deep and old and wise, the same something that guides me in my work. I honestly don't describe it as "Fire" although sitting and working in "fire" describes how I live. I will also share that I feel very connected to Jesus Christ (in an embodied way, not with any religion); yogic philosophy (also in an embodied way); Australian Aborigines (in an embodied and somehow remembered and deeply yearning way); and "indigeneity." I understand myself to be a "holy person." 

I am not interested in money. I am only interested in right livelihood and one of my intense “fiery” struggles is with living in the current financial system. I am interested in this job whether it is paid or not. I actually experienced a feeling of relief when I learned that this is a volunteer position. It feels much cleaner this way.

Thank you most kindly for your consideration. I have also enclosed my cv.

Yours sincerely,
Tasha Diamant. 

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