The Path of a Dude

Tripping, Stumbling, and Getting Up Again

by Jürg “Fed” Federer

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In the first post in our exclusive new series, Swiss provocateur and chef Jürg “Fed” Federer dishes on life and coming back from failure.

Twenty five years later I can still feel the pride rushing through my veins. The emotions are as fresh as wet paint: Sitting in a car owned outright for the first time is one of the moments a man will never forget. And so is the smell of that car. The scent of the sand colored leather seats of my 1991 Saab 9000 is forever engraved in my memory.

I was 18 years old, a graduate from a Swiss University with a marketing degree. I lived by myself for the first time, in an apartment that I had tried to make look like Charlie Sheen’s flat in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” My car came with a turbo engine, and I upgraded it with speakers the size of my little universe. In other words, I truly was a nobody. But to me, this degree, this car, and this apartment made me feel like the king of the world. My Saab 9000 was like an armor of thin steel, protecting the fragile boy sitting behind the wheel. Flooring the gas for the first time started a whole new journey. It was the road trip to becoming a Dude.

A man and his car – moments a Dude will never forget. Source: Skyfall / MGM and Columbia Pictures

I traveled from Zurich to Rome, to the Spanish Costa Del Sol, across the Atlantic Ocean to New York, San Francisco, Big Sur and LA. I went from labeling myself a marketing guy to tasting the fruits of being a celebrated chef. I owned restaurants and I was editor-in-chief of glossy magazines all at once. I was on national TV in the United States, putting the effects of date night cooking on the libido of men and women on display. In the end, I was tasked with write my own television show, and book deals came my way.

Even though I can claim to have had a joyride of a life so far, these milestones are not how I define myself today. When the thin armor of my boyhood started showing signs of decay, I must have been in my 30s by then, I shut the door to my first car for one final time, and out stepped a Dude.

A Dude is not just a guy who surfs, has hair like a lion’s mane and displays tattoos for fashion’s sake. That still has the taste of a man who is trying to be someone he saw somewhere else. A Dude is a man who walks his talk and stays true to his own beliefs. Being a gentleman is only part of the equation. A Dude is a man who walks as fast as he wants, he is someone who says no when it’s the right thing to say. A Dude is first and foremost true to himself. He’s kind to all people and along the way he lights the path for others, to follow the road of becoming a Dude themselves. A Dude may have rugged muscle power but what makes him a Dude is his emotional strength.

A Dude is not just a guy who surfs and has hair like a lions’ mane. Source: The Big Lebowski / Polygram Filmed Entertainment and Working Title Films

A Dude has long learned to entirely take care of himself; staying in shape, safeguarding his mind, body, and soul in equal parts. A Dude spent nights in darkness, to get to know himself. Whether the Dude has a well-trimmed beard doesn’t matter, it’s the smile that glows through the bristles that makes him the man that makes other people shine. Every Dude has his very own signature style. A Dude never aims to look like somebody else. When the only armor one needs is a shirt, a credit card and a pair of boots to save the day, that’s when a Dude is born. In the end it’s about confidence. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. But it’s true. It just takes a toll to reach that state.

The journey to being a Dude is a path that never ends. I am walking down this road, stumbling, tripping and sometimes I fail miserably. But it is the failures that I remember with a smile. No moment of joy has taught me lessons so profound like the situations when I attempted to look cool and I fell flat on my face. In other words, my concept of my own manhood was defined through failure. But every time I got up and tried again, I stepped a little closer to my destiny.

The journey to being a Dude is a path that never ends. I am walking down this road, stumbling, tripping and sometimes I fail miserably.

This column is about the joy of shedding the pressures of being a man. It’s about the caterpillar of a boy that wraps itself into the silk of a man. Out comes a colorful butterfly, filled with love yet also the capacity to start a hurricane with one flap of a wing. This column is a roadmap to becoming a Dude; a man who turns heads of men and women alike when he walks down the street.

I believe every man has the potential to become a Dude. But without banging up the armor of your manhood you can’t even reveal that Dude to yourself. The Saab 9000 that started my journey from boy to Dude was ultimately exported to Estonia; along with a broken clutch, a dented door, and it was coughing up smoke at all times. Every dent and every scratch my car showed was evidence of the little milestones that polished my life. In Estonia my car was found by another young boy, starting his own path to becoming a Dude. It’s a painful path and it takes some big cojones to walk down this road. But with sweat, perseverance, some tears and an abundance of humor, this path will work as a roadmap for just about every man.

Jürg “Fed” Federer is a Swiss author, provocateur and chef. He lives in Los Angeles and in Zurich. He has been written up in Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Time Out New York and many more. Fed is working as a copy writer, with offices in Zurich, New York and Los Angeles. He is currently under a three-book contract with MacGregor Literary and he will contribute to IMBOLDN with this column on living the life of a Dude every second week.

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