We all like stories: we like to tell them and we like to listen to them. Stories-we often say when talking about books and the stories they tell-allow you to live many lives. This is their superpower: without being their protagonist you can imagine yourself living a life that is not your own. The result is that you can add more lives to your own life: as many as the stories you read.
That is why on Runlovers we have told and tell so many stories: because telling them means extending life.
There are at least two elements that make us love tales of lives that are not our own: identification and aspiration (or even-why not?-repulsion). Stories work because they tell positive as well as negative experiences. They have protagonists we can love or loathe.
When we identify with a story we grasp the commonalities we have with the protagonists or even those we do not share with them. In short, one can love a story because one thinks its characters represent us but also because they are far different from us. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Darth Vader is the most successful and – paradoxically – most beloved negative character in the Star Wars saga. Why? Because it is objectively cool and because more than others it makes us imagine a life that is not our own, made up of things we would never do. And it attracts us, very much indeed.
By reading and living the stories we can imagine we have superpowers or we can overcome inner conflicts through the example and words of fictional protagonists. We love stories because we see ourselves in them: the mirror image we see might be similar to our own or completely different, but we recognize and know each other either by analogy or by difference. And it is not certain that even the differences cannot teach us something about us.
There is another feature of some of the stories that we really like: it is the transformation. If you think about it, a story in which there are no contrasts, villains, and twists is very boring. A love movie in which the main characters love each other and never fight and spend their time telling each other how much they love each other is one of the most boring things imaginable.
Instead, a story in which we experience the transformation of the characters is so appealing to us for a very simple reason: it contains the hope that things can evolve and change. Through transformation we can see and imagine that things can change. Possibly for the better, of course.
Running is full of such stories because it is such a great transformative force, both physically and mentally. Changing things and people for the better contains hope and energy. That is why we need to hear stories of people who at some point in their lives realized that they had to change something, that they had to transform themselves.
We identify with these people and eventually imagine ourselves living their lives and change firsthand. Until one day we do too.
Then we can cross over to the other side and tell our story. Of transformation and hope.