Georgia Pike-Rowney, B.A., Dip. Ed., Ph.D is a practitioner and researcher focused on the uses of the arts to enhance health and wellbeing. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia and co-Director of the Music Engagement Program, also based in Canberra. Alongside her academic career, she is an actress, writer and director, and provides specialized workshops to help performers, teachers and students overcome stagefright. Dr. Pike-Rowney has known Dr. Diamond since childhood, and has been extensively trained by him in his approach. In this short article, she pays tribute to Dr. Diamond and discusses the impact he has had on her life.
Dr. John Diamond, My Elder
Within Australian Aboriginal cultures, the Elder is preeminent within the community. Elders are individuals who have ‘gained recognition as a custodian of knowledge and lore’,1 and who ‘provide support for their communities in the form of guidance, counselling and knowledge, which help tackle problems of health, education, unemployment and racism.’2 They form the spiritual, physical and psychological framework that supports the functioning of their entire community. It is this expression of Elder that best describes my relationship with my dear friend and Mentor, Dr. John Diamond. I see him as both a custodian and a teacher of lore from around the globe and through the ages – a sort of ageless wisdom and font of knowledge from all and every possible source. The title of Elder suits Dr. Diamond as it is an active role – a role of leadership and activity, sharing his knowledge and wisdom with the intent of helping his community to overcome the difficulties and challenges of living as a human being in this world.
The type of guidance provided to me by Dr. Diamond has encompassed all aspects of my life. He is able to help me, and others, because as an Elder and a guide, everything he learns, reads or experiences is valid and useful to others. This attitude has taught me to be forever seeking new knowledge, and has helped me not to specialize or narrow focus. I believe that the trend towards specialization has killed our education system, and I am so grateful that I have always had Dr. Diamond’s influence and encouragement to help me continue to expand, to see everything as potentially helpful in due course.
Another aspect of his guidance to me has also been his experiences with Determinism. I once asked him whether I was going down too many paths, unfocussed and unclear as to why I seemed drawn to such a wide variety of academic subjects, performances and experiences that, at the time, seemed disparate and unrelated. Dr. Diamond said to me that long ago he realized that he was being guided to learn all sorts of things that, at the time, did not seem relevant, but that all of a sudden would become useful. A piece of music would come to him, and a month later that composer would become the subject of a conversation with someone who happened to love that composer. He described it as a web of experience and knowledge, with many strands upon which he could draw whenever time he needed them. They were all there, waiting to be used to help or advise someone, as Determined.
I am still building my web, and I hope never to stop. It is not easy: I am seen by some as impossibly broad in my interests. They clearly haven’t met Dr. Diamond!
1 “MTWW Protocols and Procedures Working in Partnership with Aboriginal Communities”. www.whealth.com.au
2 “What role does an Elder have in Indigenous Communities?”. NITV. Retrieved 9 December 2019. https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2017/07/07/what-role-does-elder-have-indigenous-communities