Soon We’ll Be Dead: Toni Ertl

Welcome to the 7th issue of Soon We'll Be Dead! Thank you so much for being here and reading along.

I can't believe we are already in the middle of February. Life seems to be set to a playback speed of 3x, with zero breaks.

My fear of time has amplified as my dad clutches to the last year (months?) of his life.

How much time do I have left with him seems to be at the forefront of all my thoughts.

I came across Winnie Lim's latest post about her strange relationship of time, and it struck a chord with me.

My relationship with my dad has been tumultuous for most of my life. So many wasted years between us, unable to let go of the past. Is it because we are so much alike?

As I visit him now, I want to be more open and vulnerable in his presence, letting go of past wounds and focusing more on sharing the things we love. I'm fiercely absorbed in the present moment with him, determined to remember his antidotes and the exact details of our surroundings. I don't want to forget a thing, but naturally, I will, and this is what saddens me the most.

Time is tricky. And we somehow fool ourselves into thinking there is always more time, until one day—there isn't.



Toni Ertl

Do you have a website, blog, or socials?


Are you scared of death?

No - only the dying bit.

What do you think happens to us when we die? Where do we go?

This is not a trivial question to answer in a short time! For almost my entire adult life, I have been a Christian who took it quite seriously and was quite convinced. More recently, I have cause to question many of those beliefs and understandings.

To say "I don't know" isn't helpful, but rather I have a variety of hopes and expectations, some of which involve Jesus as the real son of God, and some of which expect that when we die, that's just the end.

As a professional scientist, it would be negligent not to recognize that there have been some distinctly tangible 'spiritual' events in my life suggesting God may be real, but quite possibly not in the way 21st-century Christianity portrays Him.

Do you have a sense of purpose in life? What were you put on this Earth to do?

Yes is the simple answer.

Professionally I've worked my whole adult life in science and feel like I've been able to contribute to making the world a better place and people's lives fuller, happier, and healthier.

For a while, I helped lead a church, pastored people, visited the sick a little, helped people deal with their personal problems, and looked to build them up. I'm not a great guy, but where I could help, it has been a pleasure to do so. One of the ways my mother dealt with becoming a widow was to train for bereavement counseling - helping people is in the blood.

I'm also a musician, gigging with a band, playing 'spiritual' music that often gets people smiling and dancing outside a church context.

And I'm a husband, father, and grandfather. Been married 41 years and still in love & happy together. If nothing else, my purpose now is to stick around for my wife & grandkid.

What makes a meaningful life?

Loving, giving, having a sense of purpose and living to fulfill that. One of the problems with having doubts about faith is that it produces a sense of futility - if life is nothing more than self-pleasuring in all its various ways, then it seems shallow and futile.

If you were going to die today, what would you regret the most?

Leaving my wife with a bunch of unfinished stuff to deal with, not seeing my grandson grow up, and not being around to help our son when he hits difficult patches. I've had a good life and outlived my father by ten years.

How do you want to be remembered?

Someone who loved and cared for people.

Is it important to you to leave a legacy behind?

No, not really. We all need to do the best we can with what we have.

What are you most proud of in your life?

Being faithful, staying in love.

Would you rather be cremated or buried? Why?

It really doesn't matter.

What do you want your epitaph to say?

That's more about those who write it to remember me by - when I'm gone, I'm gone.

What would be the worst/best way to die for you?

It's tempting to recall the joke about dying peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather rather than screaming in terror like the passengers in his car. ;-)

The worst would be slow and agonizing, although being burnt alive would be pretty nasty too. The best way would be in my sleep.

What are your five "Bucket List" (for lack of a better term) things you want to do before you die? What are some important things that you want to experience, learn, or do?

I'd quite like to live a year in Canada, a year in our house in France, and perhaps a year in Italy. I've also always wanted to visit Japan. It would also be quite fun for the band to play at a major festival.

#soon we’ll be dead