by Phoenix Have you ever taken the time to see the story of a tree? Maybe while walking in a forest or even beside those oh-so-human columns of trees that line the asphalt. The beauty, the colors, the size of the beasts; perhaps we appreciate this. But do you ever stop to think about the snapshot that you see and how it came to be? Years maybe decades; the sun bending it this way one summer then that way the next. Its branches only spreading out as they do because of years, years we cannot see, years we were not here, and growth too slow to watch. Do you ever think of the story behind the snapshot? "FUCKING SHEMALE" i hear a disembodied yet still drunk voice call out through the laughs and the cheers of its peers. Can't see the owner of the roller coaster voice. Blurry eyes already from tears, they all could own that particular voice. Awash in a crowd it could well be the voice of the hand that threw a drink at my friend and his boyfriend for daring to hold hands at THEIR football game. The least gay sport of all. For years I swallowed the sweet, addictive pills of rage as one incident became two became three became a stop by cops who watch enough porn to ask me if I'm a shemale after I said I'm transgender. Ask many and hear the rage was just fine, I had been wronged, confronted with hate. Face to face, brain "ka-tcha ka-tchsssst" taking snapshots of my biggest threat. After all, it's rational: hate produces fear, fear blossoms to hate. These ugly snapshots, once controlled my own brain. I loathed the subjects of every war-torn sickening photograph. But were they not simply snapshots? A single frame in a story? What does each of these frames tell me of the decades behind it? An inexcusable action. Sure. Each one committed. But how many snapshots of me lay in the hatred of others? Afterall, it is but a snapshot. And I know nothing of the story behind it. Walking on my usual suburban route. Professionals cut, break, and snap a mighty tree to the ground. Termites, they say, have to protect other nearby trees. Saddened I realize now no one will see that snapshot. Decades of gradual growth to become a true beauty. Still one month two or three full of termites and now far from a beauty it's a danger to others. No one asks of the intention or logic of termites. Because regardless of those they bring healthy trees to the ground. Why then does it matter if my hate my rage my judgement makes sense. Are they not termites of the mind, of the soul, warping their host into merely a shell, a danger to others? Why is my hate better than that of disembodied voices the world over? I don't have my own answers. I can't say what's true for me is true for anyone. It just seems that too often we snatch up these snapshots, all too willing to ignore the story that made them.