A baby grips its father’s single, pointer finger. A mother gently cradles its head. From soft back rubs lulling you to sleep, to a light caress on a cheek from a lover. From a first, hesitant holding of hands to a familiar interlocking of fingers.

Life is made up of hands. Hands that hold and fingers that feed, even palms that slap and fists that punch.

On a cold January morning, I woke with a jump. Eyes wide and eyebrows raised, I bounced out of bed, a toothless smile plastered on my face. It was my birthday. It was not only my birthday, it was my fifth birthday. My little feet picked up their pace as I bounded down the stairs. I collided into my mother who proceeded to hug and kiss me, and then sing a horrible rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Outside was my father. He was working on one of his many family projects that would end up uncompleted in a haphazard tangle of bolts and screws and wood in the backyard. His hands were always calloused from his work. I dashed outside as fast as my small legs would carry me. He turned quickly at the sound of my footsteps, a smile overcoming his face as he crouched down to one knee. His arms were open and warm as I leapt into them and he swung me around.

“Happy birthday!” He said, enthusiastically. I could feel his big, stubby fingers combing through my hair.

Then he held up a hand, a hand much larger than my own, and counted the five digits on it. “Jamie, you’re a whole hand!”

And on my tenth birthday, I was two hands. On my fifteenth, I was three—or, two hands and a foot. All of my life has been the counting of fingers and hands as I grow older each year.

It is human nature to fear the future, as people fear death and the dark. We all fear the unknown-- we fear what we do not know or understand. But there is nothing scary about hands. We know hands. Hands are what brought us into this world, into the open arms of doctors and nurses. Hands are what we will leave with, a loved one’s gentle grip on a motionless hand. Each year of my life is just another finger added-- each finger shows experience, each hand shows wisdom.

In the end, we all grow up and we all grow old. Not everything ends up the way it is supposed to or the way people plan. Sometimes things go wrong and there is nothing to be done about it. However, you can choose how you react to it. Circumstances may change and life can become convoluted, but what counts is not what happens to you—it is what you do about it. Each person can decide how good or bad each finger turns out to be. Each person can determine the outcome of his or her own life-- if they decide to.

I have decided to let my hands wrinkle with my experience and to let them become calloused with my hard work. I have decided to look at my life without fear.

After all, life is only a bunch of hands—and what is so scary about that?