About 15 years ago when I was a graduate student, I was privileged to be invited to a consortium where we would get expert help and advice some from big names in academia. To my delight one of these mentors was a woman. She was very glamourous, tall, fashionable - she had big chunky jewellry, she was edgy, and sooo intelligent. Quite frankly I was in awe.
Years passed, I graduated, crossed the world and, in a quite separate existence, found myself at an academic conference. At some point this sweet little old lady sidled up to me. After peering at her for some time I recognised her as my old mentor. But what had happened? My idol was smaller, gentler, softer.
Maybe the first time I saw her she was a young 45, and now she was 60, but what I really think had happened was that I had gained in stature, emotionally and academically if not physically. She, for her part, had abandoned the killer heels, she had nothing to prove anymore, she was undeniably successful and an expert in her field. None the less it was a peculiar (to me) and vivid illustration of how short life is, and how we pass through these definite phases.
Shakespeare identified the seven ages of man in as you like it.
Fifteen years ago she was the soldier, Full of strange oaths, Jealous in honour,... sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation. Now it was me.