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The Sunshine on MA’s Shoulders

Moriah+Buckley+%28left%29+and+Liz+Gottlieb+%28right%29+discuss+pace+groups+for+MA%27s+first+cross+country+scrimmage+of+the+2017+season.+Photo+by+Ethan+Strull.
Moriah Buckley (left) and Liz Gottlieb (right) discuss pace groups for MA's first cross country scrimmage of the 2017 season. Photo by Ethan Strull.

Moriah Buckley (left) and Liz Gottlieb (right) discuss pace groups for MA's first cross country scrimmage of the 2017 season. Photo by Ethan Strull.

Moriah Buckley (left) and Liz Gottlieb (right) discuss pace groups for MA's first cross country scrimmage of the 2017 season. Photo by Ethan Strull.

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There’s a moment of silence when I sit down on a couch by the bright window in Foster Hall. Light filters in through the old window panes behind us, and as Moriah Buckley turns to face me, the glow of the warm September sunshine highlights the creases around her smile. She’s wearing lavender colored pants, whose color only appeared to be incredibly ironic at the end of the interview. Lavender is considered a sacred plant in nature, and Moriah Buckley’s affinity for all things pertaining to the outdoors manifests her own sacred presence out in the world. She twirls her long, black hair in her hand and faces me, smiling from ear to ear.

Buckley is not new to the Marin Academy community; in fact, her legacy on this campus has been around for decades. “I still have my name on the pennants on the wall in the gym,” she relates, with a distant look in her eyes, perhaps reminiscing about her record-breaking career as a high school cross country and softball star. “It’s cool going into the gym and seeing my name up there from 20 years ago,” she reveals. Buckley acknowledges her accomplishments with a humble voice and shy smile, appreciating the attention but not basking in it. “It’s kind of exciting to settle back into a community that had invested in me so much,” she adds, with an expression illuminated with gratitude.

Buckley’s compassion for the MA community spans further than that of her devotion for all things running related. She was an intrinsic member of the Crossroads program at MA (an academic enrichment-based program for San Rafael youth), and currently divides her time between the learning resources programs and college counseling. “I’m dyslexic and have an affinity for students who have to think outside of the box.”

She noted how during her time at MA, there was a ‘steep learning curve’ that she faced, coming from a very unconventional background and entering such a unique academic institution.

“My parents were pretty committed hippies,” Buckley remarks with a small chuckle under her breath. Born and raised in Point Reyes on a commune with her two older sisters, Rainbow and Shekhinah, Buckley’s childhood was anything but ordinary. For starters, her parents found each other at The Family of The Mystic Arts Commune (a nudist colony in Oregon), which she tells me with her head tilted back in light laughter. She added that her childhood was like a “very uncultivated, wild garden,” full of bike rides to rivers, blackberry patches, and the library. Her background, however, was not lost when she transitioned to MA.

Moriah Buckley, deep in thought. Photo by Mackenzie Thomas.

“I felt really nurtured here. I felt like coming to MA was like meeting my people, and coming home,” she said with a grin stretching across her face. It’s also no surprise that her unorthodox childhood fostered her love of running. “My dad was a runner, so when I was nine it was a really fun way to spend time with him. We would go on runs and then we would go get ice cream. Now I do that with my sons.” She has run the Dipsea every year consecutively since the ripe age of nine, showing simply that her devotion to running and the outdoors has remained unwavering her whole life. Her Strava account currently has over 2,000 miles logged on it — and that’s just from this year.

After being fascinated with every bit and detail about her story, I asked her what motto motivates her. For runners, a mantra or phrase is important when fighting through the pain and is used remind oneself that the sport really is just mind over matter. Her response? Nothing short of inspiring.

“‘You are loved.’ I am also like a really strong Christian, and so that sense of being provided for and loved is a big deal for me and my identity,” Buckley’s mantra perfectly sums up the generosity and warmth of her individuality. On the trails and in the classroom, her love for the joys and journeys of life transcend all negativity.

As our conversation comes to an end, she looks me in the eye with integrity and honesty. “I’ll see you later,” she says, reminding me that we have cross-country practice that afternoon. Her words, though simple and sweet, are saturated with genuineness. As she walks back to her desk, a cloud shifts over the beating sun. Coincidence? Not in the slightest. On the trails and in the classroom, her love for the joys and journeys of life transcend all negativity and darkness, just like radiating sunshine.

1 Comment

One Response to “The Sunshine on MA’s Shoulders”

  1. James Fleming on September 28th, 2017 6:09 pm

    Really great article on Moriah. Learned some new things!

    [Reply]

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