It’s a magical hour.

An hour of camaraderie where you see families, friends, lovers, dogs, strollers, wheelchairs and bikes.  In Italian, we call it the evening “passegiata.” In La Paz, Mexico, it’s the afternoon stroll on the Malecon.  Generally, between6 - 7pm just as the sun sets over the bay.

Every city should have a Boardwalk…a Malecon for strolling, connecting, reminding ourselves of community.  It’s an amazing urban design feature creating emotional and psychological benefits. Regardless of age, race or ability, neighbors celebrate the golden moment when life is good and all is possible.  Hope is alive and well as ideas, laughter and goodwill are shared.

Hellos are exchanged, dogs are petted, ice cream is bought, and infants in their father’s arms are mesmerized by the rainbow balloons for sale on the sidewalk. Grandparents (abuelos ) hold the hands of their grandchildren and bend low to whisper stories.

It’s a time when people let go, appreciating the moment of now.

When I think of the Malecon, I am reminded how often we are challenged to disconnect from our work-lives, carrying the burdens of the day.  And often in isolation of one another. Churning thoughts in our heads.  Worried, stressed, our shoulders feel heavy. It’s time to lighten up.

It’s time for the magical hour…

There is positive energy and even re-invigoration, when we can get out of ourselves, and experience with others, the joy of the commons. A community that is diverse yet connected. It’s good for us both personally and professionally.

Studies on aging also tell us that those who stay connected and “social” live longer and remain healthier.  Having a boardwalk or Malecon, helps creates this reality,  but it’s also important to make the commitment and then take the step to“hang out with others.”

What aboutthose of us without a Boardwalk or Malecon, you ask? Well, here are three ideas to connect socially with people around us:

·         Dog parks are great places to meet neighbors

·         Instead of getting a “coffee to go,” make a ritual of sitting in a coffee shop and even engage with others, rather than just checking your phone

·         Volunteer to pick up litter, plant trees, or clean a neighborhood park 

There are many other ideas and I challenge you to find and commit to your own magic hour.  A time to reach out, smile, and connect with those around us. 

A time to hang out.