In secular psychodevelomental terms, an epiphany is a sudden, life-changing realization, often one that catalyzes a person’s emotional maturation. The person, in one blinding flash, ‘grows up,’ ‘comes of age,’ ‘Put[s] away childish things.’ Releases illusions gone moist and rank a grip of years’ duration. Becomes, for good or ill, a citizen of reality.

In reality, genuine epiphanies are extremely rare. In contemporary adult life, maturation and acquiescence to reality are gradual processes, incremental and often imperceptible, not unlike the formation of renal calculus. Modern usage deploys epiphany as a metaphor. It is usually only in dramatic representations, religious iconography, and the ‘magical thinking’ of children that achievement of insight is compressed to a sudden blinding flash.

—David Wallace, Adult World (I)