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The Perennial Fruits of Our Imagination

By Darlene Corbett February 16, 2024 Mindset

Older adults, raise your hand if you believe that imagination’s ripeness remains in the realm of children. If your hand shot up, you should know I would’ve joined you – until two months ago.

After reading a long-term study debunking this myth, I was reminded of my passion regarding inspiration and ageless possibilities. In the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal of December 2, 2023, Professor Andrew Shtulman wrote about research disputing the idea that imagination declines with age.

I suspect that the great Napoleon Hill would concur. Long ago, he wrote: “The imagination is the workshop of the soul.” My encounters and observations at a conference I attended a few weeks ago, reinforce this premise even more.

Shtulman’s Research

Before discussing more about the conference’s delights, let me share more about Professor Shtulman’s findings based on 40 years of research.

Children’s imagination doesn’t decrease as we get older. Instead, it may be the opposite.

You can’t imagine what you don’t know. Thus, the more seeds we sow, the chances for more robust blooms increase.

Dr. Shtulman’s essay, adapted from the book Learning to Imagine: The Science of Discovering New Possibilities, describes the in-depth evidence based on his experiments with children. To me and, I hope, for older adults, this information validates for us what Dr. Hill declared in his book, Think and Grow Rich.

Whatever the mind conceives and believes, it can achieve.

My Experience at the Conference

At the end of January, I attended a conference in Austin, Texas for novel marketing. We ingested delicious offerings for which I’m most grateful. However, meeting new and creative people topped everything. A few Gen Zs, many Gen Xs, and several Baby Boomers mixed, creating a scrumptious concoction. The imagination dazzling at its best.

I spoke with a 21-year-old woman who hailed from another part of Texas. Her novel, In the Company of Cows, now sits on Amazon’s list for Christian westerns and westerns. I told her that age favors her for many sumptuous gifts in the years ahead. Her imagination will flourish as she adds life’s lessons along the way.

A 33-year-old man shared with me his abilities to write about mental health issues.

Next along the age chain, a lovely Gen X person whom I met at another conference has her first novel arriving in June, When The Ocean Roars, ready for preorder. I promised I’d read and review when it comes out.

Boomers and Imagination

Finally, there were several of us Boomers. They shined as they revealed their years of earlier learning sprinkled their imagination with a rich foundation.

First, my new bestie writes Women’s Fiction. I just purchased her book, Julia Redesigned, from her Second Chance Series. Her roommate for the conference, also a Boomer, writes dystopian novels.

Next, I spent time with another woman, age 70, whose novel focuses on Susan B. Anthony’s brother and involves Kansas and Martha’s Vineyard nearer to my stretch of the woods. This book will be the first in a trilogy.

Other boomers I encountered included one woman who wrote a book about a divorced womаn’s colony in the 1950s’ Nevada. Another, a gentleman at least north of 70, shared with me he had been writing for 30 years. He added he went slow, and I told him, “So what?” and used the adage about the tortoise and the hare.

We oldies but goodies navigated the terrain no less than our younger counterparts, and, I hope, we provided fodder that the imagination doesn’t wither with age.

Older Can Mean Greater

Think about the great ones whose imaginations emboldened them later in life.

Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until age 76. James Parkinson didn’t identify the disease named after him until age 62. In his 60s, Colonel Sanders had been on the brink of despair until he got the idea of perfecting his chicken recipe and birthing Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Many older adults have done similar things in the sunset of their lives.

I hypothesize that every one of these individuals entered their creative workshops, went on an exploration, and uncovered those gems of inspiration ready for the taking.

All of us can discover the gifts of our imagination even under the most arduous circumstances, but like so many things, it’s up to us.

If you haven’t yet, brush off the dust surrounding your imagination and watch what happens.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you think you have lost your imagination with age? Where did this belief come from? Are you willing to change your mind based on current research? What was your last work of imagination?

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Velma kitchens

Most of us have an imagination.I am in my 60 s and still have wild imaginations.

Viktoria Vidali

Excellent advice, Darlene. My experience as well!


Thank you so much, Viktoria. I’m pleased you’ve enjoyed the same experience.


I became an RN at 50. I have reinvented myself multiple times. With less responsibilities and more free time the chance to widen our creative horizons is unlimited


Fabulous, Toni. You’re a great example of finding more purpose. Yes, I love your optimistic view.


I just turned 68 and have reinvented my life a couple times and am ready to do it again to meet the needs of my next chapter. I feel like I have way more to contribute now than I did even 10 years ago. I’m excited, still learning, trying to expand, not contract, and help change the stereotype of aging. I find it to be my happiest time. Thus keeps me enthused about life.


Yay, Shelly. What a beautiful perspective. I hope people read your comment and become inspired.

The Author

Darlene Corbett views herself as a life-long learner, work-in-progress, bibliophile, and logophile. Darlene's primary roles are now Therapist, Hypnotherapist, and Author/Writer. At age 61, her first book on personal development was traditionally published. Her book, Visible Forever, will be published by WordCrafts Press in the spring of 2024.

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