"The Hare and the Tortoise decided to have a race. The tortoise lumbered along slowly, step by step, while the hare ran so swiftly he found himself far ahead of the tortoise, and decided to take a nap. The tortoise noticed the sleeping hare at the side of the road and passed him very quietly as he crossed the finish line just as the hare awoke from his nap."
Virtually the entire world knows the fables of ÆSOP, from which many great quotes have derived, such as the title of this piece. But his life has remained in the shadows.
Until now. Somehow, as if by magic, ÆSOP's life has converged with mine. Perhaps I should explain.
One of my warmest childhood memories was of my father sending me a Warner Bros. Reader Record titled, "Bugs Bunny and the Tortoise." Because Bugs was a Warner Bros. star, he won the race by an ear. I was enthralled.
When my father came home I said, "Dad! I love this story!"
"I'm glad you are enjoying it son. You know, this is not a new story."
"And in its original form, the tortoise won the race."
"Yes. This story is over 2,500 years old."
"Oh, Dad, Bugs Bunny isn't that old."
"You're right, son, but the story is."
Fast forward to my early thirties when I received a new edition of "ÆSOP's FABLES" and I read the following in the preface: "Although Æsop was born a slave in 620 BC, with no access to wealth or influence, he later served as ambassador to the wealthiest and most powerful man in the world, King Crœsus of Lydia."
And I asked the question that transformed my life: "How did he do that?"
In that instant, I felt a rush of energy that was like a chill but was not cold. From that moment, I thought about Æsop every day. It was as if he had moved in with me.
Within two weeks of reading that preface, I was offered the position of creative director at Radio City Music Hall. At the time, I was in the studio with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, as a songwriter and associate producer.
When I told Quincy of Radio City's offer, he said, "Tommy, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, get your booty to New York."
Kicked out of the nest.
Our first show was a resounding success and within weeks I received my second "once in a lifetime opportunity." The largest independent publisher of musicals on Broadway called when he heard the five songs that I had co-written for the show.
He offered to shepherd me through the process of writing a Broadway show, with the condition that I spend eight hours a day, five days a week, in the libraries of New York, studying ÆSOP.
When I reported back to my RCMH president, Robert Jani, what had transpired with Tommy Valando, he, too, kicked me out of the nest saying, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity -- go!"
Within in six months I had written nine songs and a completed story that was first heard by the two most powerful producers on Broadway. One loved my story, the other loved my music. Neither were buying. I was at a creative impasse.
Then I met my wife, forgot about Æsop and returned to Los Angeles. I started a family and resumed my involvement in music production with new vigor.
As life would have it, 17 years later, I found myself, once again, a single man, living in a club in downtown L.A., grieving over the loss of my family. As I looked out of the window wondering where I would pour my passion, I felt Æsop's presence and heard these words: "Remember me? Let's go to work."
I composed three renditions of the musical and an opera as well but comments were the same. "Too much story for the medium."
This story had been living in me for more than 20 years and I didn't know how to tell it.
Finally a Broadway writer friend of mine said to me, "Tommy, you need to write this as a novel."
"But I have never written a novel."
"Yes, but there was a time when you had never written a song."
That was the key.
I began writing, Æsop quickly took over and the story began to flow like the Hermos River.
Anything Is Possible rose naturally from the pages as the title of the finished novel.
It has been a journey of passion and love.
I hope that it is for you too.