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.”
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.