I was at Times Bookstore at Tampines 1 this afternoon to attend the ‘Meet The Author’ session / Book Talk for Chew Chor Meng’s new book ‘Stages of Life’ also known as <回到初衷> (hui dao chu zhong). It’s a book written in both English and Mandarin, and I’ve yet to read it, but I have a feeling I’ll be diving into it and a book review will be up soon. 😀
The actor / author’s favorite cool pose this afternoon *same pose as on his book cover*
Chew Chor Meng, age 47, has Kennedy’s disease (spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy), which is probably as scary as it sounds. He was diagnosed in 2008. The first two doctors he saw gave him 18 months more to live. The third one said he might have “10 years, 20 years, or even 60 years more as Chew’s muscular dystrophy was progressive”, according to this AsiaOne interview.
In this Straits Times interview, Chor Meng said that “he initially found it hard to stomach the stares and insensitive remarks that came his way.”When I went out, people would look at my leg. Then I’d feel embarrassed. I used to think that the whole world was looking at me. I felt ashamed. Now, I don’t feel this way. Step by step, I have overcome it.”
In an interview with Today, he shared that “The most important thing in life, I feel, is to know what you want in your life, what your real purpose is, and plan for that. Every day that I’m able to walk, breathe and eat, I’m happy. When I wake up, I feel I’ve lived another day, and that’s a bonus. Don’t take anything for granted. Always focus on the positive; don’t magnify your problems.”
I’m so glad that Chor Meng decided to write this book. Though he’s spent over 25 decades in showbiz and is a familiar face in Singapore, there’s probably so much more we don’t know about him. For instance, his mother and himself are victims of domestic abuse – his alcoholic father eventually committed suicide. And despite suffering from this incurable disease, Chor Meng has decided to be positive daily in facing each of Life’s challenges.
Here are 3 life lessons I learnt from attending his book talk today:
- Cherish Opportunities When They Appear. Even if you have only one line of dialogue in a drama, put in 101% effort into that one line. Make it memorable. Chor Meng related a funny incident from the early days of his acting career: He was acting as a calefare actor part-time. His friend asked if he actually got any screentime at all, or was just in the background. So when he acted in a scene in which he was to flee from a particular place, he kept looking backwards to check if the camera was trained on him or following him. The director shouted “CUT!” and then, to Chor Meng’s surprise, chided his co-actor for simply fleeing and not looking back in fear of pursuers like what Chor Meng had done. LOL. In the end, Chor Meng was given additional acting opportunities. 🙂
- Face Your History Bravely And Encourage Others. When he entered showbiz, he was initially embarrassed at having people find out about his family situation. Some 25 years later, he reveals his past in this book, so as to encourage others who may be going through similar situations.
- There Is Always A Way: In 1997, he got injured during filming, suffered a ‘slipped disc’, and experienced pain which continued throughout the years. The root cause of the persistent pain was not discovered till 2008 after going to church and praying for an answer regarding his illness. The next day, he was diagnosed by a doctor. Then came the worries regarding his career and finances (how will he continue payments for his home and car?) In the end, he decided that even in the worst case scenario, they can sell the house and move to a smaller apartment, live simply, and not have too many demands about Life. There will always be rain and storms. If you can either be happy or unhappy today, why not choose to be happy?
There was a huge turnout at the book talk and it was a long queue for getting our books signed:
I did not expect to get a photo with Chor Meng, hence the no-makeup look (LOL) but one of my blog coaching students was there too, and he helped us take this photo. My student also presented me with a copy of Chor Meng’s book, that he had bought and had gotten Chor Meng to autograph for me (so touched lor!!!) He was actually the FIRST one in the queue. Wahaha! So I got this copy autographed for my blogger pal in Penang – you know who you are! 😀 😀 😀
There were other Mediacorp celebrities who came to lend their support too. There was the pretty Priscelia Chan and her hubby Alan Tern, a beaming Zhu Houren, a glowing Eelyn Kok (who is herself an inspiration to those who are battling depression), singer Chen Diya, etc. I wish I knew all their names! 😛 And the super pretty lady in red appears to be Chor Meng’s wife, I think.
This book retails at only S$15.90 (inc. tax) – It is available at Times bookstores 🙂
Check back soon for my book review of Stages of Life / 回到初衷 ~