Soundtrack the New Unreal

In the space of a few beats, his body shrugged off the muscle memory of the pre-dawn commute, the clocklike precision of his workdays, the nightly rewind.

His circadian rhythm adapted to the soundtrack of lockdown days, the syncopated rhythm of home life in rural suburbia.

Music became the metronome of his thoughts and feelings.

Mornings, his writing ebbed and flowed with the slowly building power and complexity, the rising drone which rose to climax; the repetitive pattern after pattern.

On days he walked into town for supplies, his pace, his very aura, changed from red to purple to green as his iPhone shuffled through a playlist of rap, industrial, and folk. Each change in melody squared or hunched his shoulders, raised or shrank his stature, made eye contact with or looked away from strangers.

Each new song was more than a diversion from the familiar walk. It was the start of the soundtrack for the rest of his life.

Afternoons, his thoughts settled into a gentler form of ambient, meditative music. Electronica; alpha waves; Tibetan bowls; chanting; shakuhachi flutes; rain on the ponds; wind in the bamboo.
Evenings, he and his wife reminisced over the sound clips in commercials and TV shows.
At night, he sat on the couch with the video to Disturbed's "Sound of Silence" under the moon through the skylight.

Lastly, delta wave tracks on his smartphone tucked him into bed and lulled him to sleep.

Aaron Paulson is a Canadian expat teacher, writer, and photographer who has made a second home in Tokyo. He is currently a contributor to Pandemic Diaries, and posts to other publications and his profile page on