Recently, I had to undergo an MRI for some neck issues. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging but it also could stand for Most Regrettable Investigation. If you have ever had one you know the procedure. You enter a room that seems to have as much radiation as Chernobyl. If you are having imaging of your head, neck, or spine, you are slid into a tube that would even make Superman claustrophobic. And then it begins.
Loud beeping sounds assault your entire brain. While you are in a small enclosed tube, with a device on your head that makes you look like a cross between a Pro Bowl linebacker and the Tin man. Or would if you could even see yourself or even move your head.
These days you now get the option, at least I did (thank you the ladies running the MRI unit at Hilton Head Hospital) to listen to different varieties of music. Fortunately, I chose classical music as my accompaniment to this procedure.
The procedure started. Initially, Mozart was playing in my ears but then was rudely interrupted by the loud noise of a ship’s horn, beeping repeatedly. Well, that’s what it sounded like.
Then something wonderful happened.
As the classical sounds of the past alternated with the loud sounds of the present, it occurred to me that I was sitting at the intersection of classical art and modern science. As each took their turn at engaging my consciousness I mused on the similarities and the differences; how the MRI beeps could actually be rearranged as a musical piece; about the evolution of sound and the contrast between the two inputs.
I was in a very relaxed meditative state, able to observe not just the auditory inputs but my reaction to them.
“How are you doing in there?” asked the technician through my headphones after about ten minutes or so.
“I’m having a great time,” I said honestly.
“No one has ever said that before,” she replied. “Anyway just a few more minutes.”
“Take your time. I’m really enjoying this,” I replied.
My consciousness continued to appreciate the different sounds, what they meant to me and how they could be connected and appreciated. Then, sadly, it was over.
Never once did I consider those booming sounds annoying or irritating. They had meaning, In my case, they were symbolic of Man’s scientific progress, suitably accompanied by Man’s creative genius.
I can’t wait until I get to do it again.
And if you get to have an MRI, try to detach and observe yourself responding to the different manifestations of sounds: one representing creativity and the other science.