Aaron: Let him that think of me so abjectly know that this gold must coin a strategem

Those who see me on the street think little or nothing of my appearance. I don’t look poor or rich. I’m clean when I go out of the house and my clothing is such that I’m neither ragged nor ripe for mugging. Not that the muggers these days are picky, but I prefer not to look as though I’m asking to be held up.

But seeing me on the street and knowing me from meetings, or water cooler discussions, the to and fro of office chit-chat, that’s a different story. In the office, you see, I open my mouth. People know how I sound, know my opinions, know the way I manoeuvre. And many of them look at me with a sort of abject pity, as though my inability to navigate office politics is something I should regret, or work to change.  

But the fact is, and you of all people will understand this, there’s no reason to fall into that game, to play as though there’s a real way of winning. There’s no real way of winning and so the way I play is not to play. The way I win in general is not to engage. ‘But you want to rise in the company, don’t you?’ Is rising in the company the goal? ‘But you won’t get a raise.’ Is there a need for more money? Only insofar as I could share it with others. I suppose that’s a reason to play. The company isn’t feeding the community now, is it?

But those aren’t the questions you ask, my friend. You ask how I can retain myself at the end of the day. And I’m not sure I know either. I go home at the end of the day and I can sleep with myself. I can write to you knowing that I was honest and worked to the best of my know how and did the best I could by the people around me. Is it a philosophical victory, to be seen by those near me as something of a failure? 

I ask myself that question with the additional question: Is there such a thing as a philosophical victory?