I am a contingent being; that which is not logically necessary, i.e., something doesn’t have to be that way. This contingency is the fundamental ontological feature of existence.
Although the universe is uncreated and is not dependent on anything else for its being, its being is not necessary. That which exists without reason for being, cannot be derived from a law of necessity. That which has no determinants or characteristics, this being cannot have the characteristic of being that which cannot not be. This being is, but it is unnecessary, and in being unnecessary, it is contingent. All existence exists for no reason and for no purpose.
Such intense awareness of existence is the terrifying apprehension of the utter contingency, absurdity, pointlessness, meaninglessness and futility of existence. This awareness belongs to a consciousness that has no being of its own and exists only as a relation to this contingency – a relation by negation. To experience this awareness is to experience a state of naked and superfluous existence that surrounds oneself and also with which one is continuous by virtue of one’s body.
Society and all human activities attempt to overcome this fundamental contingency by imposing meanings and purposes on the world. This effort is brought about by naming and categorizing things. In doing so, people think they’ve made sense of it and ascribed meaning to it, grasping its essential essence and removed the contingency of this raw and nameless existence.
But the cold and bitter truth is, things only have meaning and purpose relative to other things – words readily link a thing to other things through language – and the whole only has the relative meaning and purpose that our ultimately pointless activities give it. Independent of the system of instrumentality that defines them, or the framework of meaning that explains and justifies them, objects are, seen for what they are in themselves, incomprehensible, peculiar, strange, and even disturbing in their contingency. To be aware of contingency is to be aware of the unfathomable mystery of existence.
*paraphrasing Jean-Paul Sartre