Bono at his most and least pretentious. He's admitting he wants his stardom to change the world. The ocean he sees while analyzing his relationship with the audience seems a symbol for the spiritual enlightenment he'd share. The resolution, when the world disappears to leave the rock star alone to contemplate the ocean, seems another way Bono is saying I may not be able to change the world but I can change myself.
The Picture of Dorian Grey is a novel by Oscar Wilde, the Irish author who has been a huge influence on Bono's lyrics. In referring to it, Bono mocks his own vanity in thinking a rock star can change the world.
The ocean is a recurring image in Bono's lyrics. The aloft (rock) star Bono narrates in this song seems to have "fallen from the sky" into a similar ocean in later songs like Lemon, where Bono (aka The Fly, MacPhisto, etc) takes a similar but more effaced perspective on the relationship between the artist and audience.
Note - the lyrics for The Ocean in the CD sleeve are longer than those actually sung.
Frank L Baum FrankLBaumaol.com (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
Bono is expressing here a very common and beautifull feeling teenagers about to become adults have about the world and their future. Hope in future, hope and confidence in dealing with the difficulties of life, strenght in dreaming the future...
Even at that age, teenagers know there is choice and danger to face, and the risk of being another Dorian Gray, but they think proudly, yet humbly like true and brave children that they are strong and clever enough to fight and win the race. Then this feeling fades away with everyday's life and its sorrows and pains, if the dream is not strong enought to survive.
Louise u2mol.vim.laliespamgourmet.com (24th of February 2013)