Grace Cur­ley – an as­ton­ish­ing 12 year-old

“My fam­ily taught me that suc­cess is not de­fined by what I have achieved, but by my abil­ity to trans­form fail­ure into wis­dom.”

Living Now - - Contents - by Liv­ing­now

Ear­lier in 2016 Grace was awarded a lit­er­a­ture prize at her school on the Gold Coast. Here is her amaz­ing win­ning poem (op­po­site page), along with her even more amaz­ing ac­cep­tance speech, and a story of her at the age of two, by her mother. Like us, the team at Liv­ing­now, you may be thank­ful that we have young peo­ple like this com­ing up to lead so­ci­ety to a bet­ter place.

Grace’s award ac­cep­tance speech

My poem is about a boy who lost hope and took his own life. His fam­ily, friends and the so­ci­ety have stopped car­ing about his ex­is­tence. He has been reach­ing out to you and me, but we are all too busy to pay at­ten­tion to his lone­li­ness and his des­per­ate cries for help.

Who is re­spon­si­ble for his loss of hope? I would like to leave this ques­tion for you all to con­tem­plate. Some said that win­ning this com­pe­ti­tion is a great achieve­ment, but to me, win­ning is not the point. I would only con­sider this an achieve­ment if, only if, my poem has stirred some­thing in­side you; has awak­ened you to the re­al­ity that your chil­dren need more than just ba­sic phys­i­cal care. They need you to pay at­ten­tion to how they truly feel; to lis­ten more, talk less; to love more, judge less;

to ac­cept more, re­ject less; to have power with them, not over them. I hope, I re­ally hope some­one’s life would be changed as a re­sult of my poem.

Many peo­ple asked me to­day who in­spired me to write. Well, I can say Cas­san­dra Clare, JK Rowl­ing, Jane Austen, Leo Tol­stoy, Shakespeare… but the per­son who in­spires me the most is my mother. My mum could hardly speak English when she mi­grated to Aus­tralia 25 years ago, but now she is a pub­lished au­thor of a pow­er­ful psy­cho­log­i­cal best­seller that is chang­ing tens of thou­sands of lives.

Fam­ily is the back­bone of chil­dren, the wind be­neath their wings. My fam­ily is my in­spi­ra­tion. They taught me to act out of love, kind­ness and com­pas­sion only. They taught me to think for my­self, forge my own path and create my own destiny. They taught me suc­cess is not de­fined by what I have achieved, but by my abil­ity to trans­form fail­ure into wis­dom. Most im­por­tantly, they taught me that the love of our­selves is the re­flec­tion of our ap­pre­ci­a­tion of oth­ers.

I want to thank every sin­gle one of you who has made this cel­e­bra­tion pos­si­ble. I would not be stand­ing here with­out your hard work, sac­ri­fices and sleep­less nights. Thank you Dr. An­net Al­lan for spon­sor­ing this cat­e­gory. Thank you An­drea Louise for putting this mas­sive event to­gether year af­ter year with such suc­cess. Thank you to all the spon­sors, vol­un­teer par­ents and stu­dents, the amaz­ing PNF as­so­ci­a­tion; thank you to all Som­er­set teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tion staff, li­brar­i­ans, nurses, café ladies, lunch chefs, gar­den­ers, grounds man and jan­i­tors. I ap­pre­ci­ate you, I value your work, and I thank you.

Last but not least, Thank you Mr. Bassingthwaighte, Dr. Bo­hier and Dr. John­son for lead­ing such an awe­some team at the Som­er­set Col­lege.

I would like to donate my award money to the up­com­ing Thai­land trip. Please use the money to buy some books for the kids at the or­phan­age so they too can ben­e­fit from the power of lit­er­a­ture and be in­spired to in­spire the world with their own sto­ries.

Thank you. Have an awe­some night ev­ery­one. One day, when Grace was about two and a half years old, in the mid­dle of lunch, she stopped eat­ing. I was do­ing chores around the house and, when I saw her stop eat­ing, I was go­ing to start feed­ing her and hurry her up be­fore the food got cold. When I went near her, I no­ticed that she was star­ing at a grain of rice on the tip of her lit­tle in­dex fin­ger with all her at­ten­tion. All the fo­cus of her eyes was on this lit­tle grain of rice, her breath was gen­tle and calm, her face was some­how il­lu­mi­nated with ra­di­ance; she looked like she was awestruck by some­thing.

I was about to say to her, “The food is get­ting cold my love. I have to feed you be­cause you are eat­ing too slowly”, but I stopped just be­fore the words flew out of my mouth.

Hong’s story of Grace as a tod­dler

I did not know what was go­ing on with her, but I knew some­thing mag­i­cal was hap­pen­ing. So I sat down qui­etly next to her and just stared at her beau­ti­ful, mag­i­cal pres­ence. She stared at that grain of rice for at least ten min­utes, then slowly she turned to me, and, with the soft­est and the most beau­ti­fully sat­is­fy­ing smile, she de­clared with ab­so­lute cer­tainty, “Mummy, God lives in this grain of rice.”

My heart stopped at that mo­ment. Part of me died, the me­chan­i­cal part of me just lost its force, and a spark of con­scious­ness flooded my en­tire be­ing. Warm tears flooded down my face with over­whelm­ing joy, and I reached out to her and touched the eter­nity.

Lit­tle Grace wiped off my tears. She smiled, and whis­pered to me, “Mummy, I tell you a se­cret. When I am eat­ing, I am talk­ing to God.”

At that mo­ment I knew I was given the task to take care of the soul of a di­vine mas­ter, dis­guised in the body of my daugh­ter. From that mo­ment, I gave her noth­ing but pure love and free­dom. n

Her at­ten­tive, il­lu­mi­nat­ing, in­tense fo­cus stunned me.

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