Yudesh, I think that paying attention, really paying attention, is an art and a path to awakening. There is something miraculous that happens when we pay attention, and we often do it best when we are passionate about something, when we are in love, or when we, as you say, admire something.
What happens is that while paying attention so perfectly, slowly, the union of observer and observed can happen. We can lose track of time, we can even lose track of our imagined limitations… with perfect focus we can actually realize our own nature and the nature of the object of focus.
Does this resonate with you or would you describe things differently?