This is my first post on Medium!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Frederick Daso. I am currently a first-year Master’s candidate for a degree in Aerospace Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’ve loved space and rockets ever since I was young, and it’s been a dream to pursue my passion at MIT.
I also love to write.
I first started writing when I came to the school as a freshman. My high school guidance counselor suggested I write down my experiences in a diary or something.
I liked the idea of recording my experiences. But not in a diary where others couldn’t see it.
I wanted to put my words out in the open. So naturally, I started a Tumblr.
I wrote on Tumblr for about halfway through undergrad, then switched to WordPress. Started writing on LinkedIn close to the end of my junior year.
Things took off on LinkedIn — I become a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice. Followers kept on following. I crossed 100K followers in September 2017, and am just shy of 200k roughly six months later.
Most recently, in October 2017, I got my own column on Forbes as an U30 Contributor.
Writing is starting to open up doors for me, and I’m happy to make Medium my home.
But you’re still wondering (as asked in the title): why do I write?
It’s simple. Writing helps me express myself in ways that I never could in conversation. I have a lot of deep thoughts that are just better expressed through typing than speaking.
Writing helps me engage and explore my own humanity. There are two pieces of writing that whenever I read, I’m instantly moved to tears.
The first one — dialogue between Sam and Frodo in The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers:
Frodo : I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam : I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo : What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam : That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
I just happened to stumble upon that exchange between Sam and Frodo during my layover in Nashville. I started tearing up. I don’t really know why I did.
But I did. Those words moved me. And I haven’t even seen the movie!
Given that I lacked the full context behind those words, but still felt the raw emotion between those two characters, shows the power of writing. The undying loyalty and confidence that each one had in the other was, in my opinion, a magnificent show of friendship.
I ended up crying in the middle of my layover to Boston over some beautiful writing by J.R.R Tolkien.
That’s the power of words.
The second piece of writing — Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, is personally one of my favorite essays of all time. But there’s a particular section that I tear up everytime I read it.
“…Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”
King paints a vivid picture of him having to explain to his daughter the realities of their society. Where I tear up is in the bold and italicized words. He’s seeing right there how this negatively affects his daughter, and there is nothing he can do as a father to protect her from barbarity of the Jim Crow South.
As a young, black, single male with no plans to have children any time soon, I can’t help but cry. Because deep down, I fear I may have to have this kind of talk if I ever have children.
(My eyes are starting to get blurry while writing this.)
The power of words to show the powerlessness of a person, of a people, is something that will forever leave an impact on me.
Whether we use words to display the beautiful depths of friendship and loyalty, or the darkest ills of our society, words can reach someone in a way that talking never could.
My writing my not be able to change the world, but I pray that it can change your world.
And that is why I write.