When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.
Ithaca, written by Constantine P. Cavafy
As quoted by Thaao Penghlis at the beginning and end of his presentation of JOURNEYS at Cape May Stage (Cape May, NJ), this poem captures the essence of why he has spent most of his life traveling the world. Not only has he roamed to exotic countries which many of us have not visited but dared to explore places where few of us are even allowed to go.
I have followed Thaao’s career for many years, enduring the crazy highs and lows of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, enjoying the remade 1980s series of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and trying to catch the occasional television movie -- but this presentation revealed a new character: that of the steadfast explorer, determined to find spiritual enrichment through his adventures. This quotation from Thaao’s website illustrates his frame of mind: “It seems that all these journeys I have taken were places to hide, to forget, to escape, and eventually discover their meaning by going through them and the revelations that were waiting for me to embrace. It helped me weave the fabric that I would wear for the rest of my life, and in the end bring me closer to the God in me.”
The evening began with a promotional video montage of Thaao’s travels with a flair that evoked memories of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Believing that “luck is when opportunity meets commitment,” Thaao stated that he would not take no for an answer when it came to pursuing his quests. As he described several of his trips in chronological order, there was no doubt that the man meant what he said. From being caned four times for touching a sarcophagus when he was a young boy on a school field trip to traveling through Lebanon while members of Hezbollah were pointing rifles at him for hours, every consequence or setback seemed to only spur him on to the next adventure.
Primarily interested in history, art and archeology, Thaao revealed that he considered his acting career to be the job which financed his passion for travels around the globe. However, his talent as an experienced storyteller served to make this presentation work. Spiced with bravado and humor, his stories were consistently fascinating, even while he was throwing about historical references and dates with encyclopedic precision, teaching as well as entertaining.
As of this date, the next journey will be to the Himalayas where Thaao will study the “lost years” of Jesus, known by the Buddhist and Hindu holy men of ancient times as “Saint Issa“. See this article for more about this mysterious time of the past of Jesus.
At the end of the evening, Thaao announced that negotiations are in the works for a future reality TV show based upon his travels. I wish this series the best of luck in its creation. Since reality television seems to be all the rage now, it would be a relief to see a television show that actually has some intelligence involved and is not all about the teenage demographics and the lowest common denominator.
I wish Thaao the best of luck for his new series; and while he’s at it, I hope he finds other venues for this presentation as it is a pleasure.
May his next journey be a great one!