In the terminal at LAX I met Josh Palmer while waiting for my flight to Fiji. Formerly a University of Arizona starting linebacker and touted NFL combine hopeful, Palmer is headed to Fiji to take a position as a master dive instructor following a (football) career ending broken femur.
His relaxed demeanor is fitting for a man on his way to the island nation where Hawaiians go on vacation. Palmer’s story is both intriguing and inspiring.
A clean cut kid from Nogales, AZ, he grew up in an all American household–Catholic, military, hard working, smart. He came up ranching, got good grades, and followed all of lifes rules on his way to a likely lucrative career as an athlete. Then a series of knee injuries and a shattered leg ended his most apparent progression.
Here he is–2 years later, with plenty of options–and the dude is moving to paradise for a shot at a broader perspective. Josh and I had 10 hours in coach to get each others stories, and chatting with him reminded me of why I like to travel. This was his first international flight, and certainly his longest journey from familiarity.
In his own words, “A whirlwind of highs and lows came together and I had to make a choice… now it’s all about the journey”
Josh is embarking on a new and exciting life for himself that is both out of the ordinary and perhaps not what you would expect from a guy whose other options include going to veterinary school.
We parted ways in Nadi, Fiji to the welcoming ukelele licks of the terminal band–him heading off to a new reality, me to the land down under.