It was 1970 and Arthur Panaro, wearing a wool turban, was strolling through the outdoor bazaar in Kabul, chatting with the various vendors, and practicing the basic Farsi he was studying. Art was in Afghanistan as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English to students at Kabul University.
Art found that his life in the Peace Corps satisfied his passion for new experiences, and ancient climes and peoples. This was to become a theme that has defined so much of his life.
After he finished his Peace Corps commitment and travels to Buddhist places in India, Art returned to the US and got a job teaching philosophy. But he found that teaching in a New Jersey community college somehow did not provide the same sense of adventure as visiting the giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan (destroyed by the Taliban in 2001). Feeling restless, he moved to New York City to study anthropology at The New School for Social Research while he contemplated possible moves to Nigeria or China. In the end, he decided that the western US might be just as exotic and interesting as living abroad, and he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There would be plenty of ancient ruins, diverse peoples and artifacts to keep a searcher engaged.
After a few jobs in the hotel industry and part-time teaching at Santa Fe Community College, Art finally decided to settle down and get a master’s degree in counseling at Southwestern College in Santa Fe. “You know something is happening if it keeps on happening,” he says. “I kept coming back to the idea of being a counselor. I loved philosophy, and psychology derives from philosophy, so it made sense for me.”
Art has been in the field of counseling and therapy since 1994. “Through counseling and therapy I am privileged to lead clients on an expedition of the archeology of their mind and heart, and I keep learning and growing personally—and intending the same for my clients.”
Another privileged and inspiring phenomenon that has manifested in Art’s life in Santa Fe is being cast as an extra in four productions at the Santa Fe Opera, starting in the 2006 50th anniversary season staging of Salome, in which he played a Roman noble. Art also played a waiter in the cafe scene in the 2007 and 2011 seasons production of La Boheme, and a town elder in the 2009 production of Elixir of Love.
As he learned from the philosopher Nietzsche, Art uses his passion—opera, philosophy, anthropology, and psychology—to influence his work and life. He likes to spice up his therapy with archetypal stories. “Human nature is in love with stories,” he says. “I want my clients to claim what kind of world they want to create during a hero’s journey, and how they will do that. I ask them: ‘What’s the purpose of your being here?’”
“You can offer the world your passion, your vision and mission. That’s how I am committed to live my own life.”
Based on an article by Laura Feldberg, SantaFe.com