A few months ago, I was baking a quiche when the stove started beeping far too early and I looked over to see smoke coming out of the oven vents. The appliance had malfunctioned and within about 20 minutes, turned my lovely homemade quiche into a Pyrex pie plate full of near charcoal.
In its misguided, overheated fury, the oven couldn't be turned off with the usual button. I had to descend to the basement and flip its breaker, which meant it sat inert in its spot for more than two weeks while I waited for the new control panel it needed. Until then, I'd never realized how much I depended on it as a clock.
Repair day finally arrived and a technician put in a new primary control panel, which included the clock face and oven control buttons. That's the most expensive single part that my type of stove has, so if anything else ever breaks, it will be economically worthwhile to keep doing repairs.
Today, my stove is the same as it ever was, except that it's completely different. The LEDs are slightly brighter and greener now. When the timer goes off, the three tones sound for a noticeably longer time than they did before. I'd grown accustomed to baking things an extra five or ten minutes to make sure they were done in the middle, but now most baked goods are ready at the shorter end of the suggested baking range. The stove's brain and heart have been replaced and I never realized how intimately I'd gotten to know them over the approximately 20 years I'd had it until everything changed.
I think a similar thing happens to people. Over a decade, two decades, three decades, everyone's brain and heart undergo changes. It's seldom all at once, except perhaps in instances like an ayahuasca experience, but the things that drive us and make us ourselves don't stay static. In relation to other people, that forces reckonings from time to time. Are those brighter, greener lights tolerable? Have our values and motivations changed so much that it's time to upend our lives completely?
Many times, we can get used to changes and figure out how to adjust slightly and continue moving down the same path. At other times, it makes more sense to veer in a new direction. And sometimes it boils down to what you can afford.
Anyway, I'm back to making quiches again.