He came out of nowhere.

It's a windy day and I'm sitting on the bench, ignoring my messy hair and waiting for a friend.

He was walking by slowly, looking at me curiously.

Something about him forced me out of my shell, and I smiled at him. He accepted with a shy forwardness, and took a seat on the bench next to me.

When I asked him what he was doing, he told me that a big wind had come and he lost his friends.

We became immediate buddies.

His name is Yonatan. He is a four-year-old on a mission.

Yonatan came to unleash something within me that's been concealed, put down, and woefully unexpressed.

I asked him questions, and he answered with enthusiasm. He was gentle and unafraid when he realized I don't speak his language fluently. It didn't matter to him. There could be nothing in the way of what he was sent here to do.

He told me about his family. He told me about school. He's very excited for Purim. He wishes they didn't have to learn about Pesach yet. He likes candy, and seemed unsure of my sincerity when - in normal adult behavior - I shared his enthusiasm.

But the thing is, I was being totally sincere. While talking to Yonatan, I realized that I was expressing a vulnerability that I have closed off to most people. I felt light and simple. I towered over him, but I felt soft and small. There was something about this four year old that was overpowering me.

I thought I was innocent, but Yonatan opened me up to the kind of innocence that I have forgotten to hold sacred, that I have forgotten to value.

It's the kind of innocence that let's you approach a stranger. The innocence that doesn't see boundaries. The innocence that lets you give all of your attention to the moment. An innocence that believes in its own strengths, but that takes itself lightly. An innocence that sees beauty, discovery, and adventure everywhere. The kind of innocence that doesn't believe in bad motives, that trusts the goodness in others, and won't be convinced otherwise. An innocence that allows dependence on another. An innocence that wears no sign of unnecessary seriousness.

An innocence that doesn't know how innocent it really is.

Yonatan made me miss the child I once was. I never got to say goodbye. Who dared to steal my youth and why did I not protest? Why can't I be more like Yonatan? Can I recover what's been lost? Can I invite my inner child back into this world I've created? Will it be comfortable with the new me?

I'm too serious. Serious about learning. Serious about relationships. Even my happiness with life has a seriousness it can't seem to escape. But deep beneath my intensity, my ever present feeling of adult existence, is a child. A child that went to sleep without a lullaby and has been waiting for someone to jump in and turn the light on.

Yonatan flicked the switch.

If I would have had more articulate Hebrew skills working for me at the moment, I would have told Yonatan that he changed something within me by stopping to say hi, by sitting on the bench and talking with me. I would have told him that his precious smile lit up a world within me that's been dark for way too long.

It pains me to think that, one day, Yonatan might come across someone who will send him the message - albeit subtly - that he "needs to grow up." It frustrates me that something about this world might harden the softness of Yonatan's warmth, might force him to put blocks up, get serious, get tainted, and never turn back - all without even saying goodbye.

But why can't we all be a little bit more childish? Why do we all leave a part of ourselves behind? As we grow up, our inner child wants to be tamed, but it never asked to be destroyed, to be forgotten. It still wants to be a part of our new world, our new adventures. Why do we fear our inner child? Why can't we grow up together?

I wanted to ask Yonatan if I could carry him around in my pocket. But, no. Yonatan knows my new mission. He vanished as quickly as he came, leaving me feeling old and lonely - but inspired to turn on the light switch to my inner playground.